Radicalisation: the counter-narrative and identifying the tipping point Contents


1.The Government’s counter-terrorism strategy aims to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, including through countering extremism. The range of measures used to challenge extremism in the UK include:

2.In 2015, the Government launched a new counter-extremism strategy which sets out four principal areas of action:

In the Queen’s Speech in May 2016, the Government announced its plans to introduce the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill, to tackle extremism, prevent radicalisation and promote community integration.12

Background to the inquiry

3.The Home Affairs Committee has previously inquired into counter-terrorism and the UK’s capacity to respond to the terrorist threat, most recently in May 2014 and March 2015.13 It was clear to us at the start of this Parliament that the level and impacts of radicalisation were increasing in the UK and that there was an urgent need for strong narratives to counter the evil but effective messages which terrorist organisations are disseminating, particularly Daesh. Our concern was that families and communities were being deeply affected by recruitment of young men and women to fight in Iraq and Syria. We therefore decided to examine the Government’s strategy for tackling extremism to assess whether it is effective and reaches the members of society who are most vulnerable to radicalisation.

4.We issued a call for evidence in August 2015, seeking views on the following issues:

5.We received over 60 submissions. We held 7 oral evidence sessions with a range of witnesses, including: mosques and Muslim community organisations; think-tanks, educational establishments and IT companies; Rt Hon Baroness Warsi; Mark Rowley QPM, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations in the Metropolitan Police; Sir Charles Montgomery, Director General of Border Force; David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation; and Rt Hon John Hayes MP, the then Minister for Security.

6.We held a “Big Conversation” in Bradford in January attended by about 100 young people, most of whom were Muslim, and who were reflective of the communities in the local area. This was followed in April by an international conference on counter-terrorism in Cambridge attended by more than 100 delegates and distinguished speakers including: Lord Ahmad, the then Minister for Countering Extremism; Simon Cole QPM, Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police and NPCC Lead for Prevent; George Selim, Director, Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Ameena Blake, Assistant Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain; Rafat Al-Akhali, Fellow, University of Oxford and former Yemeni Minister for Youth and Sports; and Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol. We were particularly grateful to Lieutenant General Dambazau, Minister for Internal Affairs of Nigeria, for attending as a keynote speaker.

7.We have also visited Europol in The Hague in the Netherlands and the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) in central London. The Chairman of the Committee and Stuart McDonald MP, a Committee Member, also visited Shawlands Academy in Glasgow to discuss extremism and radicalisation with pupils there. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this inquiry, particularly the young people of Bradford who took the time to share their views with us in such an interesting and frank way.

8.In this report we have focused on extremism which affects Muslim communities (while recognising the differences between those communities in terms of integration, segregation and urban or rural status), and arising from the activities of terrorist organisations such as Daesh. We share the concerns about other forms of extremism, including political extremism. We are currently conducting a separate inquiry into anti-semitism. We have also issued a call for evidence on the effectiveness of current legislation and law enforcement policies for preventing and prosecuting hate crime and its associated violence; and the extent of support that is available to victims and their families and how it might be improved.

10 Home Office, Policy paper: 2010 to 2015 government policy: counter-terrorism, 8 May 2015; and HM Government, Channel Duty Guidance: Protecting vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism, April 2015, p 3

11 Home Office, Counter-Extremism Strategy, Cm 9148, October 2015, p 17. As the Government explains: “The strategy deals with devolved matters and we will work closely with the devolved Governments on how it should apply to Scotland and Wales. Where measures in the strategy deal with devolved matters and require legislative change this will be agreed with the devolved governments in accordance with the devolution settlements. The strategy will not extend to Northern Ireland at this stage.” (p 3)

12New Home Office legislation features in Queen’s Speech”, Home Office news story, 18 May 2016

13 Home Affairs Committee, Seventeenth Report of Session 2013–14, Counter-terrorism, HC 231 and Home Affairs Committee, Nineteenth Report of Session 2014–15, Counter-terrorism: foreign fighters, HC 933

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

2 August 2016