Headlines: November 10th, 2008

Local authorities and councils are being given new guidance on how they can take a lead in the Government’s ‘Prevent’ policy, part of the strategy to combat terrorism. The Local Government Association has launched two publications aimed at helping councils who are at the heart of efforts to combat violent extremism.

The two guides set out steps councils can take in their approach and how elected members can lead action to isolate, challenge and resist violent extremism. They were launched by the LGA chairman, Margaret Eaton, who told a conference: “A year ago, preventing violent extremism was a priority for only a handful of local authorities. Today, I’m sure that most, if not all, local authorities will be aware of Prevent and its importance in stopping vulnerable people becoming violent extremists.”

She drew on her own experiences as a councillor in Bradford to stress the importance of local government creating and leading strong and safe communities. The work, she said, involved schools, mosques, churches and people from other public and voluntary services in stopping people from becoming violent extremists in the first place. “Whatever the political make up of an area, we need councillors to lead on bringing Prevent into the mainstream of council business,” Councillor Eaton said.

She stressed, too, that violent extremism is not just a ‘Muslim problem’ and said all councils needed to be aware of the Prevent strategy whether or not it was a priority in their Local Area Agreement. She said the LGA was committed to helping councils and partner organisations to deliver their response to the strategy and the new guidance was designed to give them and their members the confidence to do more to address violent extremism.