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Update for UK Prevention of Terrorism Strategy

June 8, 2011

The UK’s counter terrorism strategy CONTEST has four components Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare.  The government has just published an update of Prevent, this is the component that deal with counter-radicalization.  This is primarily a UK activity but the FCO is involved and contributes about 25% of the budget.  This money goes on efforts to counter radicalization outside the UK and domestic engagement activities.

The new report begins by emphasizing that this strategy is not just about jihadi groups and involves all kinds of radical views mentioning the extreme right.  It then goes on to ignore anything other than violent Islamist groups for the rest of the report.

The revised strategy has three objectives;  challenging extremist ideology, supporting vulnerable people and supporting sectors where there are risks of radicalization.

There seems to have been an evolution in the first of these objectives. Earlier versions of the strategy consistently referred to violent extremism.  The implication was that ideological extremism itself wasn’t the problem.  There have been media stories that Prevent funding has gone to extremist groups on the grounds that these people have the credibility to turn people away from violence.  The new strategy does away with this distinction and defines extremism as rejection of core British values.

Supporting vulnerable people involves spotting individuals who are at risk of radicalization and intervening to head them off.

Supporting sectors means working with prisons, religious groups and educational institutions to obstruct the work of radical groups and spotting people at risk.

There’s reaction from The Guardian here, The Daily Mail  here and The Telegraph here.

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