British Nationals Abroad: Armed Conflict

House of Lords written question – answered on 16th December 2014.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations in the pamphlet “Western Foreign Fighters”, recently published by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; and in particular whether they will make use of the experience of Germany and Denmark in supporting families and coping with the needs of returning fighters.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We actively and regularly engage with our European partners to share expertise and best practise in tackling extremism and radicalisation. These relationships are vital if we are to reduce this shared threat.

The importance of a balanced counter-terrorism strategy is clear and is laid out in the UK's CONTEST strategy, in which preventing terrorism is one of four essential pillars. Prevent aims to stop people becoming terrorists or extremists, or supporting terrorism. It deals with all kinds of terrorist threats to the UK, and includes non-violent extremism. Many of the recommendations in the report reflect initiatives already in place.

Prevent includes work to challenge extremist ideology (including disrupting extremist speakers and removing terrorist and extremist material online) and to intervene and stop people being radicalised. In the context of Syria it includes work to dissuade people from travelling to Syria and to intervene when they return.

We have seen a significant rise in referrals to the Channel programme, which provides tailored support to people identified as at risk of radicalisation. The Association of Chief Police Officers reported a 58% increase in the past year. Since April 2012 there have been over 2000 referrals. Hundreds of individuals have been offered support.

In the 2013/14 financial year Prevent local authority co-ordinators in our 30 Prevent priority areas worked with over 250 mosques, 50 faith groups and 70 community groups.

As referenced in the report, our Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has a key role to play in taking down unlawful terrorist-related content. Since February 2010, the CTIRU has taken down more than 65,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content which encourages or glorifies acts of terrorism. Over 46,000 of these have been removed since December 2013.

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