Home Secretary to make statement about Prevent counter-terror strategy

Home Secretary Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May is scheduled to make a statement in the House of Commons today at 4.30pm regarding the review of the Prevent counter terrorism strategy.

Prevent, launched in 2007, seeks to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism both in the UK and overseas. Prevent is the preventative strand of the government’s CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy.

The government announced in November 2010 that it was reviewing the Prevent strategy. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC was appointed to provide “expert, independent oversight on the review”. He was replaced, as planned by the Home Office, by David Anderson QC in February 2011.

The review is designed to assess how the Prevent strand of the government’s counter-terrorism programme can work more effectively and deliver better value for money.

“I believe the Prevent programme isn’t working as effectively as it could and that is why we are reviewing it. I want a strategy that is effective and properly focused — and I am determined it should confront extremism more generally and not just violent extremism,” May said in November 2010.

Yesterday the Home Secretary made controversial statements regarding the role of universities in the UK in confronting and addressing extremism. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, she accused universities of “complacency” in tackling Islamist extremism.

“I think for too long there’s been complacency around universities,” she said. “I don’t think they have been sufficiently willing to recognise what can be happening on their campuses and the radicalisation that can take place. I think there is more that universities can do.”

Today’s announcement will reportedly make good on David Cameron’s pledge to expel foreign “preachers of hate” such as Abu Hamza from the UK.

It will also aim to create a new link between non-violent extremist groups and violent ones, which is at the heart of the comments which the Home Secretary made about university “complacency”. Universities, which are traditionally a refuge for controversial and unfashionable thought, are reluctant to stifle dissenting voices provided they are not advocating hatred or violence.

Meanwhile a recent report prepared for ACPO found that 11 out of 12 mosques it examined had been targeted by extremist Islamist groups.

You can watch the Home Secretary’s statement on the Parliament UK channel or online at the Parliament TV website with coverage of debates starting at 2.30 and the Home Secretary expected to speak at around 4.30pm (according to the Home Office press office).

UPDATE: The Government will admit today that millions of pounds were wasted overseas on anti-extremism projects while domestic counter-terrorism remains underfunded. That’s according to The Times which has seen a copy of the new Prevent strategy document.

The new strategy calls for more funding for work in prisons, universities and the health service.

The document has had a rough ride in Government. Five months late in publication, it has been subject to numerous revisions by officials and ministers, including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, to toughen up the language and assert core British values.

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