William Eichler 05 July 2017

Prevent ‘toxic’ brand in need of repackaging, councillor says

Prevent has become a ‘toxic’ brand and needs repackaging, councillor says during a discussion on how to promote integration.

The leader of Luton council Hazel Simmons told a workshop at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference that Prevent - a part of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy - needed to be repackaged.

The councillor stressed the programme’s aim to prevent people from being radicalised by extremists from across the ideological spectrum was important - but warned for many it had become a ‘toxic’ brand.

Cllr Simmons’ point was supported by a Muslim woman in the audience who said Prevent had ‘lost confidence from the beginning’ in her community.

The comments were made as part of a workshop called ‘Building cohesive communities – councils’ leadership role’ and chaired by Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA stronger and safer communities.

One of the other speakers, the former chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Nazir Afzal, also emphasised that it was crucial to ensure Prevent was about safeguarding and not about counter-terrorism.

Mr Afzal, who talked about challenging the ‘myths’ that he claimed Prevent’s critics were spreading, said the programme was about safeguarding people from extremist ideologies in the same way the authorities safeguard against other threats.

On the issue of how councils can communicate better with their communities, Mr Afzal warned that a lack of diversity in positions of authority was a problem. He said communities wouldn't ‘give a toss’ what councillors have to say unless residents feel properly represented.

Chris Naylor, the chief executive of Barking & Dagenham, the home of one of the terrorists responsible for the London Bridge attack, spoke at length about the challenges his borough has faced with community cohesion.

An area that has seen a large influx of immigrants in recent years, as well as the election of 12 BNP members 10 years ago, the borough has faced many challenges with managing inter-communal relations.

He warned there was a ‘profound sense of disconnection from the council’ in the borough, particularly from members of the white working class who see themselves as the ‘indigenous community.’

Mr Naylor urged local authorities to design all services with the express aim of tackling this sense of alienation and reconnecting residents with their council.

Provocatively, Mr Naylor also showed a montage of all those arrested in connection to terrorism offences in recent years, many of whom were of Asian heritage.

He noted that all of them — from Islamist extremists to white supremacists — were men whose biographies often revealed a ‘toxic, perverted sense of masculinity.’

Women, as victims of domestic abuse or FGM, were often the first victims of these terrorists, he said.

On the question of immigration, one questioner pointed out that the existence of special schemes, such as the Syrian Resettlement Programme, had created a ‘two-tiered’ immigration system where those who came in under a particular scheme were given access to advantages not available to those who entered the country through the standard route.

Cllr Blackburn noted the Syrian Resettlement Programme was a success because it was done in conjunction with the LGA.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Estate Surveyor x2

City of Bradford MDC
£28,226 - £42,614
The Council has an opportunity for a general practice and agricultural MRICS/FRICS qualified Estate Surveyors. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Apprenticeship Hub Account Manager

Stoke-on-Trent City Council
£30,095 - £32,798
A fantastic opportunity has recently opened for an ambitious and dynamic individual with a background in sales. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Recuriter: Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Customer Access Officer x3

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£31,122 - £32,112
We have three exciting opportunities within our Housing Inclusion Service, for people looking to further their career in housing. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Construction Quality Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£30,984 - £35,336
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Urban Design & Building Services team is looking to employ a permanent Construction Quality Officer. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Social Worker

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£37,260 - £45,381
In Kensington and Chelsea, we support people’s independence and wellbeing. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.