| ||The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham MP (pictured), delivered the keynote address at the Prevent conference in Birmingham today. The conference is intended for frontline staff in local councils and the police forces, all involved in delivering the government’s £140 million Prevent programme. |
Denham told the conference that the Prevent programme has suffered from ‘controversy, criticism and lack of clarity’, alluding to the allegations that the programme has been used to spy on British Muslims and covertly gather information on individuals unsuspected of involvement in unlawful activity through Information Sharing Agreements.
Denham said "Despite the significant progress that has been made in the first year of the programme, controversy, criticism and lack of clarity have unnecessarily limited its effectiveness."
“…where we have heard constructive criticism, we are willing to listen and to change in order to become more effective. And we recognise that if Prevent is enveloped by suspicion or misunderstanding it simply will not work."
“Prevent cannot work as a Government programme imposed on Muslim communities. They need to feel ownership of the community based parts of prevent and work as full partners in it.
“So we all need to have the confidence to address concerns about Prevent directly, honestly and openly.”
Addressing the allegations printed in the Guardian, that Prevent has been used to gather information on British Muslims unsuspected of any involvement in unlawful activity, Denham told the conference that "there should be no information gathering or information sharing about the community aspects of the work which cannot be openly acknowledged with every member of the Prevent partnership and the wider community."
To tackle the growing threat from far right extremism and its harm to community cohesion, Denham also announced the government’s allocation of £5 million to help local councils to challenge those intent on dividing communities.
He said, "I want to make it clear today: any area facing far right or racist extremist problems which divide communities should have a strategy for addressing those problems. And those areas should be resourced for that work.
"I can confirm that we will be investing a further five million pounds in cohesion - and will ensure that all authorities at risk of far right or racist extremism will share in these funds."
"It is important that local Muslim communities do not feel they are being singled out if other forms of extremism are a threat in the area."
Read the speech here.
You can hear John Denham on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning, ahead of his Prevent conference address, here (1 hr 35 mins into the programme).
|< Prev||Next >|