Report Looks At Tackling Extremism In Bradford

Bradford councillors will be told that an increasing number of people are being flagged to the Prevent programme.

Bradford councillors will be told that an increasing number of people are being flagged to the Prevent programme after displaying signs of right wing extremism.

The policy was set up as part of the Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy as a way to “reduce the likelihood of individuals supporting a violent extremist ideology or becoming terrorists.”

It followed a number of attacks in the UK by home grown terrorists.

An annual report on how the policy has been implemented in Bradford in the past year will be discussed by Bradford Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee at a meeting next Thursday.

The report says that while the Government believes the main threat to UK is through terrorism inspired by ISIS, the number of referrals over far right extremism has drastically risen in recent years.

It will also detail the work that is being done in Bradford to tackle the different types of extremism, including training parents to spot warning signs that their child is being radicalised and a course to teach young people to “identify the similarities between gang involvement, extremism and radicalisation.”

Funding for such local schemes has more than doubled in the past year.

And last year over 16,000 young people in Bradford were given lessons on how to avoid extremism.

A Home Office review of how the programme is being delivered in Bradford was carried out last year, and said Bradford “is generally delivering Prevent to a high standard. The team observed a range of innovative practice, strong partnership working and demonstrable leadership.”

One of the main parts of the Prevent programme is the Channel safeguarding scheme. The scheme is made up of panel of safeguarding professionals including police, social workers, NHS staff, schools and the justice system to identify those at risk of being drawn into terrorism, assess what the risk might be and then develop tailored support for those referred to them.

The report says that in the 2017/18 year, 394 people in the UK received Channel support. Of these 179 (45 per cent) were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism, and 174 (44 per cent) were referred for concerns related to the right wing extremism.

It adds: “There was a 36 per cent increase in the number of referrals for concerns related to right wing extremism in 2017/18 (1,312) when compared with 2016/17 (968), continuing the upward trend seen since 2015/16.”

Discussing the rise in people flagged as falling into far right extremism, the report says: “The extreme far right is successfully tapping into political dis-engagement in society with a narrative of ‘betrayal’ and ‘traitors’ often focusing on MPs.

“The far right has not gained significant traction in the district though individuals can be vulnerable to the on-line narrative.”

The dangers of far right extremism were put into the spotlight when Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was murdered in Birstall by far right extremist Thomas Mair in 2016.

And last year Jack Coulson, a teenager who had lived in Bradford, was given a sentence of over four years in a youth offender institute for a terror offence. The 19 year-old had admitted possessing a document or record for terror purposes, and had previously been convicted for making a pipe bomb.

The jury had heard how Coulson’s bedroom was filled with Nazi symbols, including flags bearing the swastika and the symbol of the Waffen SS.

Funding for Prevent projects in Bradford rose drastically last year – from £142,000 in 2017/18 to £366,000 in 2018/19.

Of this funding, £21,000 has been spent delivering the BRAVE project – which “dispels the myths of gang life and how young people are exploited and groomed.” It warns young people about the often insidious ways far right groups and ISIS recruit young people, and has involved 6,000 12 to 18 year olds in the district.

The Resilient Families scheme has received £33,294 funding and helps educate parents what makes their children vulnerable to extremism, including online extremism. Over 1,200 people have been reached through the programme.

Empowering Minds has used £25,000 funding to run anti-radicalisation sessions in Bradford’s mosques and madrassas.

The Mothers Against Radicalisation project, which received £25,000 funding, “Supports mothers to understand the digital world its impact and dangers on inquisitive minds.”

The report also includes details about UK residents who have travelled to the Middle East to fight for Islamic terror groups.

It says around 900 British people have fled the country to fight for groups like ISIS.

A number of people from the Bradford area are thought to have travelled to Syria, although the report only includes national figures.

It shows that 40 per cent of those have returned to the UK, but are deemed a “low security concern.” The most dangerous fighters are thought to have remained in the Middle East.

The report says: “Around 900 people of national security concern travelled from the UK to engage in the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

“Of these, approximately 20 per cent have been killed in that conflict, and around 40 per cent have returned to the UK.”

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