More officials fighting terror is welcome, but government still needs to tackle the root causes of extremism

By HJS

The Henry Jackson Society today commented on the release of the Government’s updated CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy.

The updated strategy includes plans for more information-sharing on persons of interest between the security services, police and public bodies such as local councils. It also highlights the need for evidence of unusual transactions – such as the stockpiling of chemicals – to be referred to the authorities as early as possible.

The strategy promises new counter-terrorism legislation, including the possibility of increasing maximum sentences for some offences and criminalising the repeated viewing on online streamed video content.

Responding to the updated strategy, Tom Wilson, Research Fellow in the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at The Henry Jackson Society, said:

“Many of the measures announced by the Home Secretary are sensible and an improvement on current practice. The increase in the number of counter-terrorism officials in particular is badly needed.

“Nevertheless, today’s measures are hardly a radical overhaul – for the most part, this is more of the same. We could have hoped for further moves to make the Prevent programme more robust. Currently, Prevent seems to be about managing the problem rather than getting at the root cause.

“Government still does not seem to be taking Islamist entryism seriously enough, with public institutions repeatedly hosting people with links to extremism. There need to be serious consequences for those who allow our public services to be exploited by extremists seeking legitimacy.

“It remains unclear whether Ministers have any sense of how they might decisively defeat the belief systems that give rise to terrorism. As Henry Jackson Society research has shown, we need to cut off the finances that support extremism. That means powers to strip charitable status from extremist-linked groups and action to block funding for extremists – especially when it comes from overseas.”

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