Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron is to warn that the “stakes are rising” in the battle against extremism as he unveils measures to prevent young people being radicalised.

The Prime Minister will insist the Government cannot turn a “blind eye” to the spread of terrorist ideologies as he launches a new counter-extremism strategy.

The plan will see an extension of powers for passports to be withdrawn from young people at risk of travelling abroad to join groups such as Islamic State (IS).

The mechanism has already been used on several under-16s since it was introduced in July, according to Downing Street, and will now be available for 16- and 17-year-olds.

There will be bans on radical preachers posting material online, and internet firms will work more closely with police to stop extremist material being disseminated.

Anyone with a conviction or civil order for terrorist or extremist activity will also be automatically barred from working with children and vulnerable people.

 

Mr Cameron, who yesterday announced that an extra £5 million will be ploughed into moderate muslim groups and charities this year, is to reiterate his view that defeating Islamist extremism is the “struggle of our generation”.

“It is one of the biggest social problems we need to overcome,” he will say.

“We know that extremism is really a symptom; ideology is the root cause – but the stakes are rising and that demands a new approach. So we have a choice – do we choose to turn a blind eye or do we choose to get out there and make the case for our British values?

“The Government’s new Counter-Extremism Strategy is a clear signal of the choice we have made to take on this poisonous ideology with resolve, determination and the goal of building a greater Britain.

“And a key part of this new approach is going further to protect children and vulnerable people from the risk of radicalisation by empowering parents and public institutions with all the advice, tools and practical support they need.”

It is thought Mr Cameron will pledge to act on a review of sharia courts, and declare that all new arrivals to the country should respect “British values”.

The Community Security Trust (CST) told Jewish News: ”We are pleased that the government’s counter-extremism strategy acknowledges the role played by antisemitism in extremist ideology and the need to tackle antisemitic hate crime as part of its overall strategy. 

We will continue to work with Government to play our part in combating the extremism that threatens everybody in our society, and that poses a specific threat to Jewish communities.”

In a foreword to the strategy, Home Secretary Theresa May apparently defines these as “democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all”.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “This is the greatest challenge of our age and the Prime Minister is right to devote his focus to it.

“For our part, we will always support measures that are reasonable, proportionate and evidence-based. But we have a job to ensure that, in this difficult area, the Government gets the balance right doesn’t go beyond that.

“This summer, David Cameron failed to strike that balance by implying that the whole Muslim community ‘quietly condones’ extremism.

“He should use today’s speech to correct that suggestion and set the right context for the difficult decisions that lie ahead by building bridges with the Muslim community.

“As David Davis warns, the PM needs to take care to make sure the measures are not heavy-handed. If he’s not careful, they could have the opposite effect and fuel resentment, division and a sense of victimisation.

“The Government must proceed with the utmost caution and Labour will watch carefully to ensure the correct balance is achieved.”

Mrs May said that only “a small number” of parents have so far taken advantage of the power to have their children’s passports removed.

The Home Secretary said that the measure was only one of a range of actions being taken to target extremism not only by Islamists but also by other militant groups such as neo-Nazis, and to support those in the community seeking to prevent the radicalisation of young people.

Mrs May told BBC One’s Breakfast: “We do face an unprecedented threat fromextremism. Groups like Isil can beam their message of hatred into family homes through the internet and so, as we see young men and women – and indeed whole families – going to Syria, potentially to take part in fighting, it shows us that we need to step up our action to counter extremism.

“We have also seen, of course, last week there have been significant rises in recorded and reported hate crime. What the counter-extremism strategy makes clear is that we are dealing with extremism across the board.

“Not all the harms from extremism are about terrorism. There are other harms too. We also need to deal with the neo-Nazis who are also spreading a message of hatred and division.”

Mrs May said that media watchdog Ofcom’s ability to shut down TV stations broadcasting an extremist message was being extended to cover radio.

More than 100,000 pieces of extremist material have been taken down from the internet since 2010, she said.