New thinking needed to counter terror threat

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has warned that rising levels of extremism in all communities means new thinking is needed to counter the terror threat.

Responding to the report of the Commission Preventing Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion, set up following the Manchester Arena attack last year, Burnham said that the increase in the number of individuals inciting hate and violence means the police and security services are unable to monitor all those posing a risk.

Therefore, ’the time has come to consider a stronger, whole-society approach’, where families, communities and faith groups work together to provide information to support the work of public bodies.

Greater Manchester will now work to make the Prevent approach more transparent, explaining its focus on safeguarding and challenge false perceptions. The commissioners found that while the principles that underpin Prevent are correct in the region, there is a lack of information available and this leads to fear spreading in communities, which has led to a perception that it targets one community in particular.

Furthermore, working with the Home Office, Greater Manchester will develop a new, whole-society approach to tackling extremism. Alongside a pilot which will look at more local sharing of intelligence, Greater Manchester will make it easier for citizens to raise and report concerns.

Burnham said: “We live in polarised times when violent extremism is on the rise in all communities. As the Commission concludes, it is families, friends and neighbours who are most likely to be the first to witness changes towards more extreme behaviour that might lead to violence. This is not about encouraging people to spy on each other but creating a greater understanding of the signs that indicate where behaviour has crossed the line and then making it easier to report.

“Of course, the primary responsibility for tackling terrorism will always lie with the police and security services. They have our full support and they have done great work since the attack to bring those responsible to justice and reassure our communities. But there is more that we can all do to help them. The more we adopt a ‘whole-society’ approach to tackling extremism, the more effective it will be.”

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