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News ->Government hampers attempts to tackle violent extremism.

Government hampers attempts to tackle violent extremism
(11 November 2008)

Baroness Sayeeda WarsiThe Conservative Party alleges that the British Government is hampering communities' attempts to tackle extremism, based on a new report produced by the Audit Commission and questions raised on funding in the House of Commons by Paul Goodman MP. Commenting on the Audit Commission’s report 'Preventing Violent Extremism: Learning and Development', which criticises the way in which the Government has allocated this funding, Shadow Minister for Security, Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said: “The report highlights basic flaws in the Government’s security strategy. It is deeply worrying that local authorities and local police commanders do not receive information to support effective decision making.

"Our efforts to counter terrorism are being hampered by an unwillingness to share information with those on the frontline of countering radicalisation. The community level work of local authorities and police is fundamental to tackling extremism.

“The Government has been so fixated with the politics of 42 days and ID cards that it has taken its eye off the ball – it has not provided the leadership and oversight needed to address this gap”.

Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, said: “For months now we have been asking the Government which groups and areas it was funding through this money and how it was assessing the effectiveness of this spending. This report underlines our worst fears.

“It is a serious indictment of a Government which quite clearly was unwilling to listen, but desperately wanted to show it was doing something.

“It is staggering that the Government set this programme in motion without knowing how to assess the susceptibility of individuals or areas to extremism. Money has been rushed out with no guidance of how its effectiveness will be measured. Even worse, there appears to be no nationally co-ordinated system for sharing information between local authorities and the Police.

“It is amazing how well some Local Authorities and community groups have coped with yet another botched and expensive Government initiative – the tragedy is that this is in such a sensitive and high risk area.”

The Conservatives have highlight several sections of the Audit Comission's report:

Lack of research into the causes of extremism:

“Identifying the factors that make someone vulnerable to becoming involved in violent extremism is the first step towards anticipating and addressing the issue. There was a common view that there is insufficient information about what causes a person to become a violent extremist.” (p23)

No nationally co-ordinated system for sharing information between local authorities and police:

“There are significant opportunities at national and local levels for information sharing to be improved. Councils, local police, counter terrorism (CT) intelligence specialists and other agencies struggled to demonstrate a systematic information sharing process for Prevent purposes, whether at a strategic level or within front line service delivery.” (p20)

Funding rushed out but without sufficient guidance:

“Our work suggests that, to be effective, partnerships need to have a locally agreed and shared Prevent ‘narrative’, which defines the extent of local vulnerability to violent extremism and sets out how the risks will be addressed. We found varying levels of clarity about what partnerships are trying to deliver in Prevent and how this links with cohesion or other local strategies. The main cause of this is the absence of relevant information to determine the extent of the local vulnerability to violent extremism.

“In some places we heard that the national narrative and the guidance from government departments is not always clear or easy to understand. The national context is described by a range of sources. A much clearer, fuller description from government, setting out the role of all departments would be helpful.” (p10)

“Funding has been helpful but guidance arrived four months later.” (p15)

Click here for a copy of the report 'Preventing Violent Extremism' ()

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