Crawley is a ‘priority area’ for the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
Local authorities have statutory duties under the ‘Prevent’ strategy to respond to extremist ideology, provide support for individuals at risk of radicalisation, and prevent people from being recruited into terrrorism.
Funding has been made available for a new post for a year as well as two different projects.
Lee Harris, chief executive at Crawley Borough Council, briefed members of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on the subject on Monday June 8, explaining that the ‘town has a long history of being associated with terrorism’.
The first project is called ‘Web Guardians’ and involves training mums on how to protect their children from harm via the internet, while the second ‘Young Leaders’ is a training programme for youth workers.
Mr Harris explained that it was important to ensure that if people were subject to work under Prevent it did not lead to whole communities being painted with the same brush.
Karen Sudan (Lab, West Green), acting chair of the committee, said: “The strength of Crawley is community cohesion. We are very conscious and proud of it and that’s the best preventative strategy.”
Chris Cheshire (Lab, West Green) asked how supportive the leaders of the local mosques were with the programme.
Mr Harris pointed out that the leaders were about to change in two of the three, but added: “It’s a difficult area for them and they are conversations we will want to have with the new mosque leadership.”
He said the difficult question was how you defined extremism and referenced the Government’s definition as ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values’.
Bill Ward (Lab, West Green) explained that using the term ‘Islamic extremism’ was dangerous and added: “You paint a whole world movement with the extra word. It’s important for us to be hyper careful about the language that we use.”
There have been a mumber of anti-terror raids on homes in Crawley in recent years.
Crawley father-of-three Abdul Waheed Majeed was named the first British suicide bomber in Syria after he was believed to have driven a lorry filled with explosives into a prison in February 2014.
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