In her speech today at the Conservative Conference 2014, Home Secretary Theresa May displayed a welcome recognition of the importance of challenging extremism.
Whether on the need to tackle non-violent as well as violent extremism or the associated issues of segregation and sectarianism, the Home Secretary made it clear that plenty more must be done to combat the threat of radical Islam in the United Kingdom.
The Henry Jackson Society is particularly pleased to see the Home Secretary announce measures, several of which have been key HJS recommendations in recent years and will likely greatly improve the government’s ability to combat extremism in all forms. The speech set out a number of promising steps, including: the commitment to strengthening the restrictions put on terrorism suspects who cannot be deported or prosecuted, known as Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) and strengthening legal and regulatory procedures for vulnerable institutions such as charities, universities, schools and prisons.
HJS urges careful consideration, however, as regards the proposals for new Banning Orders and Extremism Disruption Orders for groups and individuals that “fall short of the existing laws relating to terrorism”. While we encourage the Home Secretary’s efforts to find innovative solutions to the challenge extremists pose to our society, we note that the UK already has what Theresa May called “some of the strongest laws in the world”. HJS experts have published several reports noting ways in which existing legislation can be more effectively implemented as a first step in disrupting extremists.
In response to the Home Secretary’s speech, HJS Research Fellow Hannah Stuart commented:
“The Henry Jackson Society has long cited the inadequate use of existing legislation to disrupt extremists as a key cause for concern. The Home Secretary’s speech shows that the extremist threat in Britain is being taken seriously at the highest levels and highlights that more can and should be done to counter that threat.”