Counter-extremism strategy in London not good enough, says mayor

Sadiq Khan says immediate action is needed because of the threat to public safety

London mayor Sadiq Khan says more has to be done to protect London from the threat of extremism. Reuters  
London mayor Sadiq Khan says more has to be done to protect London from the threat of extremism. Reuters  

The strategy to tackle violent extremism in London is inadequate and puts people’s safety at risk, the capital’s mayor said on Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan called for immediate improvements to identifying, reporting and countering extremist activity as he published the findings of a review examining London’s ability to prevent attacks.

Mr Khan, who said he was investing £1 million into tackling the issue, said that extremists sought to exploit inequality and poverty in the capital to recruit the disenchanted.

The review was prompted by four terrorist attacks in the capital in 2017 – one by a far-right wing extremist - that left 14 people dead and dozens injured.

Inquests into attacks by four Islamist extremists outside parliament and at London Bridge less than three months apart have heard evidence of security shortcomings and missed opportunities that could have reduced the death toll. All of the attackers were shot dead.

“Good work in London has been evidenced but it is clear that our ability to tackle violent extremism currently is simply not good enough, putting our safety and security at risk,” Mr Khan wrote in the report. “Efforts to improve and renew are needed urgently.”

Mr Khan said the review also highlighted “failings and shortcomings” in the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, that is designed to identify potential terrorists and divert them from violence. Mr Khan said there was both misunderstanding and “deep mistrust” of the strategy from some sections of the community.

The UK government in January announced plans for an independent review of Prevent but said that it would take at least 18 months to report back.

In his foreword to a review of a two-year supplementary programme run by his city administration, Mr Khan aligned himself with critics of the government’s oversight of Prevent, which has divided opinion over the best way to tackle the spread of Islamist ideology.

“Against the backdrop of the heightened scale and pace of the threat of violent extremism, improvements simply cannot wait alone for a lengthy review process,” said Mr Khan, a politician from the opposition Labour party.

The report was set up to identify ways to strengthen minority communities and stop the spread of extremist ideology.

“There is no single pathway into violent extremism and there is no absolute check list as to who might be vulnerable to radicalisation,” the mayor said.

“This means that there is no single solution to fix this challenge and therefore for us to truly defeat violent extremism we must look to mitigate this threat from multiple angles.”

Published: June 25, 2019 05:47 PM


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