Anti-terror bill reaches Parliament

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A sweeping package of counter-terror measures is to be introduced to Parliament today a s a nationwide extremism awareness campaign continues.

Home Secretary Theresa May will publish a new Counter-terrorism and Security Bill containing a range of draconian powers including a legal requiremenet by schools, prisons and councils to put in place policies or programmes to stop would-be extremists from being drawn into terrorism.

The Home Secretary will publish the anti-extremist proposals as police officers enter the third day of a counter-terrorism awareness week, which will see more than 6,000 people receive briefings at 80 venues across the country.

Mrs May said: “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. These powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face.

“In an open and free society, we can never entirely eliminate the threat from terrorism.

“But we must do everything possible in line with our shared values to reduce the risks posed by our enemies.

“This bill includes a considered, targeted set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”

Today, the counter-terror campaign shifts focus to preventing vulnerable people from being brainwashed through social media and calls on parents, carers, friends and colleagues to be alert to signs of extremism.

It comes after the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) in its report on the murder of soldier Lee Rigby said the Government’s Prevent programme, designed to divert individuals from radicalisation, has not been given sufficient priority.

National policing lead for the Prevent programme Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: “The police cannot be in every mosque, college or other community venue monitoring what is discussed and the doctrines which are promoted. Nor would we want Britain to be such a society.

“We need parents, schools, partners, friends and colleagues to be aware of the signs that someone is being influenced by extremist messages and have the confidence to report any concerns to the police.

“Look out for notable changes in behaviour and mood, those vulnerable may begin to express extreme political or radical views, or appear increasingly sympathetic to terrorist acts, their appearance may change along with the friends that they spend time with or they may start to spend excessive time on their own or on the internet.”

The new counter-terror legislation will ban insurance companies from footing the bill for terrorist ransoms, block suspected foreign fighters f rom returning to the UK and powers will be re-introduced to relocate terror suspects across the country.

A statutory duty will be placed on named organisations – such as colleges, universities, the police and probation providers – to help deter radicalisation and, where organisations fail, ministers will be able to issue court-enforced directions to them.

Police are to be handed powers in the new bill to force internet firms to hand over details that could help identify suspected terrorists and paedophiles, while police and border staff will be given the power to seize the passports of terror suspects.

People who are found to be at risk of radicalisation are then offered support through the “Channel” process, which involves several agencies working to give individuals access to services such as health, education, specialist mentoring and diversionary activities.

Between 2007 and 2014, there were 3,934 referrals to the Channel process.

Mr Fahy added: “There has been a lot of questioning about the impact of the Prevent programme.

“Every year agencies working together divert young people away from crime and gangs, and we take the same approach in Prevent.

“At its heart, Prevent is about basic safeguarding with teachers, social services, youth organisations and health workers acting together to identify and support those at risk.”

Prevent Engagement Officers (PEOs) operate in forces across the UK, forging good relationships across the community so that they can work together to form a deeper understanding of any concerns or issues.

Mr Fahy went on: “This is crucial in combating extremist ideologies promoting violent extremism and hatred. A joint effort is essential, particularly involving schools, youth organisations, places of worship and of course parents.

“Over the past few years, the nature of the threat to our young people has changed as the extremist ideology is spread through social media and other material on the web.”

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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