One in four Londoners have witnessed views “promoting, endorsing or supporting extremism,” a governmental survey has shown, amid warnings that radicalisation may be on the rise.
The research found that as many as 1,5 million adults in Britain’s capital have witnessed support for extremism in the past year, suggesting that counter-radicalisation efforts may not be having a positive impact in all communities.
The survey also showed that almost two-thirds of Londoners would not know how to seek support over terror concerns, while less than a quarter of respondents said they could spot the signs of extremism.
The results of the governmental poll for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime come in the wake of four terror attacks by ISIS supporters and far-right terrorists in London.
The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that “it’s clear that our ability as a country to tackle radicalisation and violent extremism is simply not good enough, and this is putting our safety and security at risk.”
“I don’t think there are things such as hard to reach communities, there is hard to reach government and we need to do a far better job at making sure we engage with all Londoners,” he added, according to British media.
Mr Khan said authorities needed to gain the trust of people exposed to extremism of all kinds and called for a “full and frank assessment” of existing government programmes to tackle low public engagement.
“Too many communities now feel distrustful and alienated by Prevent and this is a fundamental flaw that needs to be addressed.”
Prevent, Britain’s flagship counter-extremism programme, has been the object of years of controversy. It will now undergo an independent review, the government announced in January.
Eighteen terror plots have reportedly been foiled in Britain, marking an increased threat from both Islamic extremists and far-right extremists.
Mr Khan has expressed concern that Brexit would cause a spike in hate crime similar to the one that followed the 2016 EU referendum, and said police were contingency planning for potential civil unrest.
Mr Khan himself has often been the object of extremist attacks. Extremists frequently post doctored images of Mr Khan and racist memes on social media. Critics have also crowdfunded a balloon depicting the London mayor in a bikini, which emulates an anti-Donald Trump protest.
“The key thing is to not allow haters to succeed by letting it affect you. It’s distressing for friends and family but there are more of those that are decent than are horrible and nasty,” he said.