The report for the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee — "Preventing extremism in London" — found that although countering extremism is high on the agenda of all boroughs in the city, the support offered to various boroughs widely differs.
The UK Government introduced the so-called "Prevent" strategy to deter people from becoming radicalized, working with communities to identify and interact with those likely to be radicalized and turn to terrorism. The strategy is part of the anti-terrorism "CONTEST" program, which consists of four work areas: Pursue, to stop terrorist attacks; Prevent, to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism; Protect, to strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack; and Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.
However, the report found that "priority boroughs" are each allocated a Prevent Coordinator yet "non-priority boroughs" integrate Prevent into other areas of local authority activity.
In Croydon, south London, it the Public Safety Service who has responsibility for a number of crime and disorder issues. In Harrow, north London, Prevent is the responsibility of a Senior Professional for Community Cohesion. Bexley, south London, told the report authors that us that it is "not aware of any support from the Home Office apart from notification of the duty and guidance notes."
Threat From Violent Extremists
Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, Joanne McCartney AM, said: "Now, more than ever, a robust strategy is needed to combat the very real threat that London faces from violent extremists.
"Our report recognizes that as the eyes and ears of the capital, we cannot afford to overlook the role of the public. The risks posed by online radicalization have been examined and we know that a strong counter-narrative — which condemns violent extremism — is one of the most powerful prevention methods available, but attempts to deliver this have been lacking so far," McCartney said.
"Community engagement is critical to the success of Prevent, but we heard that there is a risk that the current 'top down' approach to Prevent delivery makes it difficult to engage citizens," she said.
The report called for a more standardized approach to the Prevent strategy, more interaction with the public and better information-sharing between the different boroughs of London. It called for a more joined-up Pan-London strategy.
"Collaboration between public services across London is vital and needs to improve. Sharing information leads to better interventions, and a 'richer' picture of the challenges faced by the capital. At the same time, the public must not be the forgotten partner in the fight against extremism," the report concluded.