Counter-terrorism: foreign fighters - Home Affairs Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Preventing radicalisation

1.  Preventative work with communities must be a top priority for the Home Office's de-radicalisation work. It is urgent that new partnerships are developed with mosques and other community groups and that they play a key role in Prevent counter-terrorism programmes. We need to reassure them that they will not be 'toxified' by helping the authorities to identify those who they suspect of radicalisation and by engaging with these individuals. (Paragraph 3)

2.  We are concerned at the evidence that some people who do not previously hold or express any extremist views become radicalised in prison. It indicates that the programmes we have are not working effectively enough. Work to prevent radicalisation in prisons should be a high priority in the Government's counter-radicalisation agenda. The Prime Minister's Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism stated that the 'Ibaana' prison counter-radicalisation programme would be rolled out in full across British prisons by April 2014. The implementation of this programme across the country must be clearly outlined to specific deadlines. This programme is of vital importance given this growing threat, and so giving ambiguous timetables indicating piecemeal application are simply unacceptable. It is vital that individuals working with prisoners, particularly those offering counselling, should undergo specific training to equip them to combat extremist ideologies. (Paragraph 7)

3.  It is particularly important that prisoners who have demonstrated extremist views in prison should receive support, monitoring and appropriate intervention on their release, including through the Channel programme. The Channel programme should be strengthened to provide long-term, effective monitoring of participants, to ensure proper evaluation of these prevention programmes. All the evaluations should be sent to our successor Committee by 31 July 2015. (Paragraph 9)

4.  Where social media companies are given evidence that users of their services are seeking to promote violent extremism, they should be prepared to take action to suspend their accounts, as they do where there is abuse or harassment of other users. (Paragraph 14)

5.  Communication between the police, schools and parents is in need of vast improvement. The police must engage in a regular and open dialogue with schools and community groups to ensure that information is exchanged and new initiatives can be explored at community level. Schools and the police must inform parents immediately, and work together when there is even the smallest hint of radicalisation, or a close association with someone who is thought to have been radicalised. (Paragraph 17)

6.  It is essential that the officers working on the Prevent programme, as in other areas of the police, are truly reflective and representative of British society. (Paragraph 18)

7.  There needs to be an advice service open to all, particularly targeted at parents who wish to seek advice or express concerns about a particular individual. This must be well publicised, and be a less extreme step than using the Anti-Terrorist Hotline. There is a fear of stigmatisation among communities and such a helpline could go some way in changing these attitudes. This method should be included in the Prevent strategy. (Paragraph 19)

8.  The universality of the internet has enabled people to be radicalised in their bedrooms unnoticed by others. Policing social media sites such as Twitter, a means by which many IS propaganda has been spread for example, is impossible. Young people need to be equipped with the skills to become critical consumers of online content, in order to build a more natural resistance against radicalisation through online extremist content and propaganda. This is not just about counter-radicalisation: an informed, critical and questioning approach to online sources is a valuable asset in all aspects of a young person's social and intellectual development. (Paragraph 20)

9.  International efforts to work in unison to tackle the growing number of young people travelling to these conflict zones to join extremist groups must be strengthened urgently. (Paragraph 21)

10.  We commend all the families which have spoken to the Committee during the course of this inquiry, namely Sally and Micheal Evans, Hussen Abase, Fahmida Aziz, and Sahima Begum, for their courage in speaking up. Not enough support is given to families by the Home Office. Greater counselling and support services should be offered to them. (Paragraph 24)

Preventing individuals from travelling abroad

11.  It is alarming that people subject to TPIMs or control orders have been able to abscond. We find it surprising that the police and security services are not better able to monitor people who they claim are such a substantial threat. We recommend that the police and security services review the methods and resources that they use to monitor these individuals. (Paragraph 28)

12.  Not enough emphasis is placed on preventing people from travelling abroad to join jihadist groups. At the check-in desk at airports and during exit checks, greater care should be taken with people travelling to destinations of concern (DOCs), such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Nigeria, as well as neighbouring countries which might be used as transit points to these destinations. The Home Office should work with airlines which serve these destinations to develop stricter controls for passengers travelling there. Airlines have a duty to work co-operatively with security services. We welcome the proposals put through on 12 February 2015, they will make sure that airlines take greater responsibility. (Paragraph 29)

13.  Where it becomes clear that individuals might already have left for Syria, the police need to work faster to alert overseas partners and airlines about them. Being reactive is inadequate: once people reach Syria and Iraq, or even Turkey, it is too late. No-fly lists should be strictly adhered to and shared internationally. (Paragraph 30)

Combating returning foreign fighters

14.  We are disappointed that the Home Office has not implemented a programme for individuals returning to Britain where there is evidence that they have fought in Syria. It is vital that the Government works with mental health practitioners and also assesses the Aarhus process to ensure that the UK's programme best integrates those returning from conflict zones such as Syria. (Paragraph 34)

15.  There are of course people who travel to Syria and have not been involved in terrorist activity. It is clear that such people should not face the prospect of criminal sanctions, and we welcome the fact that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe accepts this principle. (Paragraph 35)


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Prepared 26 March 2015