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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 1446-vii
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Roots of Violent Radicalisation
Tuesday 6 December 2011
Jamie BARTLETT, Hannah Stuart and Professor Peter NeumanN
David Anderson qc
James Brokenshire MP
Evidence heard in Public Questions 347 - 437
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 6 December 2011
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Jamie Bartlett, Demos, Hannah Stuart, Henry Jackson Society, and Professor Peter Neumann, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, gave evidence.
Q347 Chair: This is a further session in the Committee’s inquiry into the roots of radicalism. Mr Bartlett, Mr Neumann, Ms Stuart, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. I hope you have been following our evidence sessions so far. Following you we will be having evidence from David Anderson, QC, and then the Minister will be coming to give evidence to us.
Perhaps I could start with a general question about what appears to the Committee to be a lack of hard evidence about the process of radicalism. Starting with you, Mr Bartlett, and then we will move on to the other witnesses, can you throw any light on this lack of evidence that seems to puzzle the Committee?
Mr Bartlett: There is a combination of reasons, I think. Firstly-
Chair: I think you will need to speak up.
Mr Bartlett: Sorry, I have a bit of a cold as well. I think there are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, it is obviously quite difficult to generate primary evidence on a subject like this. Research subjects are not always so forthcoming in talking to academia or to think-tankers or to Government, and therefore it can be quite difficult to generate what is really required, which is a lot of in-depth research evidence into what these people think, their journey through their lives and so on. The second problem is that a lot of the research on this has been very theoretical. There has been a lot of modelling about different processes of radicalisation that has not really been based, partly for the reasons I just set out, on firm evidence.
There is a third issue here, which is that we are talking about, essentially, a very complicated personal journey. It is research that can be done by social sciences and humanities that are notoriously difficult, and weak in many ways, at generating very solid, trustworthy evidence bases. There is not really any way of getting around that. We use the language of science but we are essentially using humanities to try to understand this and oftentimes we do not acknowledge the weakness in the evidence base that we have. So I think that is an extremely dangerous and worrying problem. I would be very interested to know that you are taking care to be aware of the sort of evidence that you are willing to accept because a lot of what you will probably hear is based on anecdotal information that, as a social scientist, includes an incredible number of weaknesses about making generalisations.
If I may just make a final point, what we need when we are talking about radicalisation and trying to understand it is to understand all those individuals who may have shared many of the similar underlying background demographics or attitudes or experiences in their lives but did not go on to commit acts of violence or did not get involved in very problematic types of extremism. That requires a far greater evidence base. What we tend to do at the moment is make assumptions based on the very small sample that we have of individuals that have gone on to commit acts of terrorism. To truly understand what is driving it, we would need to compare those against a far greater dataset of individuals that did not.
Q348 Chair: Professor Neumann, could you also address the issue about whether or not current Government policy on Prevent has taken on board the research that you and others have undertaken in answering my initial question about the apparent lack of hard evidence?
Professor Ne u mann: Yes, Chairman, I think you are absolutely right. There is not as much evidence as in other fields of the social sciences. However, I would say, slightly disagreeing with my colleague here, that there are a number of studies that are drawing on substantial amounts of empirical evidence now. In fact, if you read across the different models and theories that are empirically based you see recurring themes. There is the theme of grievance, crisis, conflict; there is the theme of ideology that people have been touched by that takes a grievance and channels it into a particular direction; and there is, of course, the theme of mobilisation-the influence of radicalisers or small groups of people who radicalise collectively. I would describe them as ingredients of the process of radicalisation. I agree we do not know absolutely everything about how these ingredients fit together, how to cook the recipe. We don’t have the recipe but we may have the ingredients.
Ms Stuart: I would only add that yes, I think in this area the work that we did that was cited by the Prevent Review drew on 138 convictions for Islamism-inspired terrorism between 1999 and 2010. So, compared to other types of crime, we are talking about an incredibly small evidence base. Just from those numbers, it would be incredibly difficult to draw something that you would call hard evidence. I would say again that the Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry into 7/7 did say that they were disappointed that what they called "such a simple, yet essential, piece of the evidence base"-the successful conviction of terrorists and basic information about their background, where they grew up, their education-did not exist. That was something that we did, which, as you say, is not hard evidence to describe the drivers of radicalisation but it at least gives you the basic background information of people who have been convicted in this country.
Q349 Chair: Yes. A quick answer from each of you, starting with you, Ms Stuart: is it on the increase or decrease? I understand why we can’t have hard facts, but you are in the field, you are in this area. Would you say it was increasing or decreasing?
Ms Stuart: Do you mean radicalisation? I think it is difficult to answer. Certainly we are not seeing a drop in convictions of Islamism-inspired terrorism in this country. There was a peak between 2005 and 2007 but there has not been a significant drop. Also there have been a number of plots thwarted recently that did not result in convictions but were ended a different way by, say, deportation. I would say that the level of radicalism has been fairly consistent, if not increasing, from the 1990s.
Professor Neumann: I would say it is definitely on the decrease. The reason for saying that is not by looking at convictions necessarily but by looking at extremist organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, which were able to mobilise hundreds if not thousands of people in the late 1990s and now are able to mobilise maybe 100. So there is a very significant decrease.
Chair: That is a very significant decrease. Mr Bartlett, up or down?
Mr Bartlett: I agree, I think probably down or stabilising. I think there is potentially a growth in some types of non-violent extremism, particularly Salafi groups, and there are obviously potentially types of increases in other types. We are talking here predominantly about Islamic extremism but, as I am sure you are all aware, other types of extremism appear to be on the increase. Part of that may be what Professor Eatwell calls cumulative, that groups feed off each other. Classic examples are the English Defence League and Hizb ut-Tahrir, who require each other’s presence in order to justify their continuing existence and just continually spur each other on.
Q350 Dr Huppert: If I could comment on Mr Bartlett’s criticisms of taking anecdata, and we would be very grateful if any of you do want to give us more evidence later in written form to justify things that you say. May I first ask all of you-I think we are now going from Mr Bartlett to the right-how do you respond to the Prevent Review and the new Prevent Strategy?
Mr Bartlett: I broadly welcomed the review. My original understanding of how I believed the review was going to go was that there would be a much clearer distinction than there was between violent terrorist activity and non-violent extremism, which at times appeared to be slightly confused when the final document came out. In principle the idea that counter-terrorism is the work of the Home Office and that is a security-related issue, and there are other types of extremism that are a concern but not necessarily a security one, is the right one. I think in respect of where ideology plays a role, that is where I was less certain, but overall I think it was an improvement on the last one.
Professor Neumann: First of all, it is very good because it now addresses different kinds of extremism. Precisely because of what Jamie just said, we do have a problem of different kinds of extremism feeding off each other and that is now being addressed. Secondly, it more clearly separates counter-radicalisation and Prevent on the one hand from counter-terrorism on the other hand. It should be more difficult, at least in principle, to make the accusation that counter-radicalisation Prevent is about spying on communities, because it is more clearly separated. I do also-and that is my final point-in principle welcome the idea that you are no longer funding groups that are fundamentally opposed to the British constitution, if you want.
Ms Stuart: I would agree and broadly I also welcomed the review. What was particularly good was that even just in the foreword it was spelt out-we have had these kind of vague ideas about what our values are as a society and in the first paragraph it spelt out universal human rights, equality before the law, democracy and full participation in our society. The review also consistently said that the Government would no longer engage with or fund groups that fail to support these values. It is the first time we have had them defined. I know that some people would consider that maybe a knee-jerk or a right-wing reaction, and I would completely disagree. I think it is quite progressive; it respects the boundaries of our law. The review continually states that the Government will seek to uphold freedom of speech but that it is also vital to challenge apologists for terrorism. I think, very simply, it is saying that if groups run counter to these values, if they are engaging in activities that break our discrimination laws, then they have the right to exist, they have the right to say what they want to say, but they do not have the right to use a public platform, to have public money, or to be engaged with by Government. I think that was very important.
Q351 Dr Huppert: You have all indicated, I think, that you support the focus on looking at explicitly non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism. How far down the chain do you think that should continue? What counts as extremism? How radical does something have to be to cross that threshold?
Ms Stuart: I think it is spelt out in those four statements, universal human rights, equality before the law, democracy. It is not saying that you can’t exist or you don’t have the right to have those views. It is certainly not saying, for example, you don’t have the right or the Government won’t fund you if you disagree with foreign policy, but I think it is saying that if, as an organisation or as a university student union that is now a charity, you are going to consistently put people on a platform who break, for example, discrimination laws against homosexuals then you should not be surprised if your money and your state legitimacy is withdrawn. I think that is the right thing to do.
Professor Neumann: I broadly agree. I think that the ultimate test to apply is to ask, does a particular group broadly support the constitutional form of government, democracy, human rights, and is it unambiguous about violence? If it fails these tests then surely, while it should be allowed to exist and under freedom of speech they should be able to express their opinions, it should not be funded and empowered by the state.
Mr Bartlett: I slightly disagree. Firstly, I think it is obviously very difficult for the Government to defeat extremism, non-violent extremism. It is difficult to know where to start, it is difficult to know who to fund, and I think personally to defeat non-violent extremism the best way is probably funding projects that are not about extremism, that bring communities together for completely unrelated reasons to extremism. Secondly, my slight concern about the focus on not working with non-violent extremists is that there may be occasions particularly where the police do believe that working with these groups has a very clear and definite security benefit. So I think it is important to distinguish between those types of tactical alliances or tactical information sharing and the broader effort to empower Muslim communities or to put particular groups up as spokespeople for Muslim communities. That was part of the problem over the last four or five years-that we were dealing with new organisations that were arriving and springing up rather quickly. People did not know what they stood for very well and local authorities found it difficult to know precisely who to fund and who not to fund. I think improvements have been made but if it comes to a situation where groups that are doing very good and documented work in preventing terrorist activity are accused of being extremists, for whatever reason and from whoever, and that money is then withdrawn that could be a problem for everybody.
Q352 Mr Winnick: Mr Bartlett, one thing is certain: that the so-called English Defence League does not receive any Government money, but you have done a study, presumably the first study, of this organisation. Is it driven by hatred of Islam?
Mr Bartlett: The group is an interesting one for a number of reasons. It is predominantly online, most of its activity takes place online, and only a very small proportion of its support base goes out and demonstrates, which is what everybody sees on the news. You have individuals there who are genuinely concerned that Sharia law is being introduced, or is going to be introduced-is on the verge of being introduced in the UK. They care greatly about human rights and individual freedom and they believe that these things are under attack. Part of the reason they believe that is because they consume media that seems to tell them that is the case. But equally it draws other people who are known neo-Nazis, who are well documented, experienced BNP voters and members and people who are coming in.
The problem with the English Defence League is that there is no formal membership base. There is no way of controlling who joins the marches and who joins the groups online. As a result, you have a very wide array of people, some of whom are certainly driven by hatred of Islam, some of whom are driven by a desire to protect English values, which they see as under threat, some of whom have concerns about their local housing, or are unemployed and angry about immigration. So it is a very interesting group and I think it is going to be characteristic of a number of groups that will emerge in the future.
Q353 Mr Winnick: If it draws in the sort of people that you are saying, it must inevitably be not only, first and foremost, anti-Islam but also anti-Semitic, even if one or two people who are Jewish are in it.
Mr Bartlett: There may be individuals there, particularly in the beginning of the English Defence League when they were attracting well known neo-Nazi groups, which they eventually expelled. There were some early anti-Semitic individuals involved but more recently they have tried to form various alliances with Jewish groups. They say they are on the side of Jewish groups. They have a Jewish wing in the English Defence League and they have a number of Jewish members. Certainly the official ideology of the group is not anti-Semitic.
Q354 Mr Winnick: Ms Stuart, what is your attitude toward extremist, non-terrorist organisations like the organisation we have just mentioned?
Ms Stuart: Do you mean Hizb ut-Tahrir?
Mr Winnick: The so-called English Defence League.
Ms Stuart: I am not an expert on the English Defence League in any way but I do see them as an aggressive reaction perhaps to the group Al-Muhajiroun more so than Hizb ut-Tahrir. There tend to be a lot of EDL marches and protests countering Al-Muhajiroun activity. I think one of the first instances was in Luton. But, again, I am not an expert on the EDL.
Q355 Mr Winnick: I am not suggesting you are an expert, but do I take it that the society that you are associated with, the Henry Jackson Society, totally condemns it?
Ms Stuart: Yes, of course.
Q356 Mr Winnick: Mr Neumann, it could be a pretty wide-ranging answer but, briefly, what should be the main emphasis of the British Government’s policy in dealing with organisations that are not terrorist but have extreme views and extreme activities in some respects?
Professor Neumann: I strongly believe that, first of all, not all of the organisations need to be banned, and maybe this is something that we are going to talk about later on.
Chair: Yes, we are.
Professor Neumann: Not all of these organisations need to be banned but equally they should not necessarily be empowered. I don’t think either the English Defence League or an equivalent organisation on the Islamist side should be given Government money or they should be graced with Ministers’ presence at their conferences. However, they should be critically engaged and they should be challenged. Their arguments should be addressed because these arguments clearly play a role in certain circles. What I would hope the new Prevent policy is going to bring is a more challenging attitude towards extremist attitudes, not banning groups but confronting the arguments.
Q357 Mr Winnick: Ms Stuart, does your organisation accept that once you start, as with anti-Semitism-and we know what that led to over 2,000 years-the hatred generated against Islam-as we know, only a tiny minority of that faith engage in terrorism and extremism, certainly in this country-inevitably leads to the kind of horror that we saw in Norway? That unless you stamp on it, as anti-Semitism was never stamped on effectively prior to 1945, anti-Islam will lead to the kind of atrocities as in Norway?
Ms Stuart: I think that is a big concern, yes. Certainly, I think we need to stamp down on groups like the EDL but, as Peter was saying, not necessarily by banning them, except perhaps banning marches in certain circumstances where we feel that is going to be a threat to public order, but by critically challenging them. For example, Jamie was just saying that one of their beliefs is what they perceive as an increasing level of Sharia in this country. Well, I think the Government need to be very clear that the law on Sharia since the 1996 Arbitration Act has been exactly the same: you can use Sharia in a court of arbitration and that is it. There is no creeping Sharia-isation in this country. Their fears are unfounded and they should be engaged with and told very firmly that that is the case. These myths do need to be dispelled because what we saw in Norway, I would argue, is that when people feel that their main political parties or their normal avenues for protester engagement are not open to them or are not receptive to their ideas they will seek even further radicalisation, like the situation in Norway.
Q358 Steve McCabe: I wanted to ask if we are a bit confused or ambivalent about our attitudes to the EDL. If we follow Mr Bartlett’s line, some of the concerns of some of their adherents-housing, local services-are legitimate. You say you don’t want them banned and you don’t want them to have public money, but every time we permit them to demonstrate in the centre of Birmingham they are consuming huge volumes of public resource that could be better spent. Don’t we have to be clear what we saying? Either there is a legitimate strand that we should develop or we should see this as unacceptable, but we seem to be stuck in the middle, paying for them indirectly.
Professor Neumann: Yes, and what I was referring to was direct Government funding, as happened with some Islamist groups in the past. But I completely agree with you, of course one has to consider also indirect funding or support for these groups. I just think on the general question it is probably not possible, nor is it effective, to ban these groups in the sense that the people and the ideas behind them will not necessarily go away.
Q359 Alun Michael: Mr Bartlett said that a lot of the activity-I think he said the majority of the activity-of the English Defence League is online, which implies that there is more reach of their ideas beyond the numbers that we see in the demonstrations that take place. Could you give us some idea of the respective volumes of engagement there?
Mr Bartlett: I ran a survey of 1,500 members of their Facebook group, and their Facebook group is central to the organisation. They are one of the few organisations that was founded post Facebook and it is really critical as a way of organising, proselytising, recruiting. Their Facebook group size has shrunk recently. It was between 70,000 and 100,000; that collapsed. The site was, I think, probably hacked into, and they are building their membership base back up to, I think, currently between 30,000 and 40,000. A number of those people are trolls; they are people that don’t really like the group. They are there intentionally to sow discord or they are journalists or researchers like us. I estimate that around 25,000 to 35,000 members of the English Defence League that would consider themselves members are active online, of whom only about a fifth have been on national demonstrations; their activity is diversifying quite quickly. They are doing a lot more local activity, legal challenges, but the majority of it still takes place online. As you will have seen, they have never really managed to get more than 2,000 people to a march or a demonstration and that broadly bears out the research that I did. I don’t think that is increasing at all. It is not going to get much bigger than that.
Q360 Alun Michael: That is very helpful. Thanks very much. If there is more on that, I think it would be of interest to us. Hannah Stuart, in your submission you say that there was no reduction in Al-Muhajiroun involvement in terrorism following their proscription in 2010, but you also say the proscription of al-Shabaab and Tehrik-e-Taliban is likely to be effective. How do you reconcile those two statements?
Ms Stuart: It is because when a group is proscribed there are a number of offences that are then relevant to them and from our study of previous terrorism offences there were a number of convictions for people who were raising money for proscribed organisations or sending weapons to groups in Pakistan or in Afghanistan or seeking to travel to go to terrorist training camps. With the proscription of al-Shabaab and Tehrik-e-Taliban that means that those offences are now open to British citizens that intend to do that, and I think that will have a good effect on our counter-terrorism measures.
Q361 Alun Michael: What is the basis for that?
Ms Stuart: There have been individuals who have previously funded al-Shabaab who have been on trial in this country for other related terrorist offences and a conviction was not secured even though the individual did admit to funding al-Shabaab. Now that group is proscribed, were a similar situation to arise that would result in a conviction. But I think something that also strengthens the state would be the fact that there have previously been individuals who have attempted to travel, particularly to Somalia, and because the group was not proscribed the Government had no choice but to put them under control order. Obviously control orders are a very controversial part of our counter-terrorism mechanisms and are not an ideal option. They can result in quite genuine grievances because individuals are put under control order but not given a fair trial whereas with, say, al-Shabaab being proscribed, were an individual intending to travel to a training camp there, they could have a fair trial under our terrorism legislation.
Q362 Alun Michael: You also say you are concerned that prohibition of Hizb ut-Tahrir would, and I quote, "Possibly give unnecessary legitimacy to their West versus Islam, West anti-Islam world view". Do you think there is a danger that proscription may be effective from a law enforcement perspective but more risky from a radicalisation viewpoint?
Ms Stuart: I don’t think it would be particularly effective from a law enforcement view either, simply because it is very difficult with groups to define who is and who is not a member. Also, some of the offences like attending a meeting, those often happen in individuals’ homes or, for example, back rooms in mosques that would allow that to happen, and so from a law enforcement point of view it would be very difficult to secure those offences. But I think more worrying would be the giving of legitimacy. Hizb ut-Tahrir is quite an unusual group in that generally it has not had much support from any other Islamist or Muslim organisation in this country but after 7/7, when Tony Blair first said that he was looking into possibly proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, there was a noticeable swell of support from Islamist organisations for Hizb ut-Tahrir and they were presenting Tony Blair’s proposals as part of an ongoing oppression against Muslims rather than a genuine investigation into whether a group ought to be proscribed or not. That was a kind of knee-jerk reaction and I feel that if Hizb ut-Tahrir were to be proscribed we would see that more.
Q363 Alun Michael: Could I ask the other two witnesses to comment on those points, please?
Professor Neumann: I think that proscriptions are usually most effective if you have organisations that have some sort of formal organisation, that have bank accounts, that have offices. These things can be banned and made more difficult by the law. But when we are talking about organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun they don’t have many of these formal structures anyway. So the expectations in terms of proscribing these organisations should be very limited. I think it can be a useful tool in terms of disrupting a group’s activities, in terms of keeping them off balance, in terms of keeping them preoccupied with themselves; in that sense it perhaps does make sense. But one should not expect too much in terms of a tangible impact when you are dealing with an organisation that does not have much of a structure, does not have money in bank accounts, does not rent offices in the first place.
Mr Bartlett: Yes, of course it is a question of personal philosophy; never forget that. Just a couple of quick points. I do think that having the Sword of Damocles constantly hanging over groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir has been quite helpful in forcing them to moderate in many respects. Certainly over the last decade they have become more moderate and they may continue to do so. I do not believe, even though I am not in favour of proscription, that proscribing groups would give justification to the concept that the West is at war with Islam or some of these individuals because I think they have plenty of evidence that they believe already justifies that assertion.
Q364 Chair: The Prime Minister is very much in favour of banning Hizb ut-Tahrir. He would not just be saying this for fun, would he? He must have legitimate concerns about it. You are saying that when a political statement is made of that kind, similarly with Tony Blair, just the threat of that is enough to try and get people to be more moderate or to moderate their behaviour?
Mr Bartlett: I think so, and I think it has. Over the last five or six years particularly, the Government have been trying to ban the group, looking for ways to ban the group, spending a lot of time peering into what they have been doing with far greater scrutiny, and I know that has-
Q365 Chair: That is just as effective or perhaps even more effective?
Mr Bartlett: I think it is something that needs to be factored in. It is very difficult to weigh the different measures of effectiveness of things like that.
Ms Stuart: I would disagree with that. I did a study on Hizb ut-Tahrir and after Tony Blair said what he said, on the group’s British website I think there were something like 285 different postings of various fatwas or press releases, many of which explicitly called for violence.
Q366 Chair: As a result of the statement or before the statement?
Ms Stuart: No, this is before. After Tony Blair’s statement, the majority of stuff came off the website. There were about 30 postings, none of which called for violence. After that they have been very careful publicly about what they have said, but I have spoken to former members who were still involved with the organisation following 2005 who say that the group deliberately adopted a "keep your ideology in your heart" strategy where their views were not moderated but their public promotion was.
Chair: Professor, very quickly because we have to move on.
Professor Neumann: Just reinforcing that, I think they have become more careful. I think there is very little evidence that suggests that they have genuinely moderated.
Mr Bartlett: That is quite important, though, because it means they are less able to spread and share their message beyond the existing members.
Q367 Chair: But does it not push them underground, Professor?
Professor Neumann: I think organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir already organise a lot like conspiratorial movements. I don’t think it will make a big difference in that respect.
Q368 Nicola Blackwood: One of the findings of the Prevent Review was that universities are a particular locus for the radicalisation of vulnerable young people and that universities themselves should be playing a role in trying to prevent this. But we have received evidence from Universities UK and also the Federation of Student Islamic Societies who claim that, while they recognise that they do have a duty to try and manage the risks, there is no hard evidence to suggest that violent organisations do target students. I wonder if you could respond to that, perhaps starting with Jamie Bartlett.
Mr Bartlett: My understanding is that universities had traditionally been quite a hotbed, particularly for Hizb ut-Tahrir, partly because of the belief, and I think it is borne out by evidence, that one of the root causes here is a sense of failed aspirations. People who thought they would do much better in life than they did see that the doors of opportunity are closed to them as a result of their religion or their ethnicity and that is a particularly fertile breeding ground when you combine that with the sort of genuine radicalism that you have when you are a young person. Plus some of the technical skills that people have in engineering are, for obvious reasons, quite appealing. So I think historically that has been the case and I think, Hannah-you will know better than me-your work shows that quite a high proportion of people have been to university, although I think that has fallen over the last three or four years in particular.
Q369 Nicola Blackwood: What about your work on EDL and other groups-has that shown a similar propensity to target universities or not?
Mr Bartlett: No.
Professor Neumann: We did a study in 2007 for the European Commission and we came to the conclusion that, like prisons or like the internet, universities were places of vulnerability. They are places of vulnerability because you get people of a certain age, often away from home for the first time, often feeling quite lost and often experiencing a sort of crisis of identity and so on. That makes it easy for extremist groups to pick them up and to say to them, "Come along to our meeting, we are like you". Of course, as Hannah’s centre has documented, there have been a lot of cases of people who were radicalised as a result of going to university. I am not doing myself any favours here because I am working for a university, but I do think that university administrations have been a little bit complacent about this in the past.
Ms Stuart: Our study of the convictions over the last 11 years did show that 30% of individuals involved in Islamism-related terrorism in the UK had at some point been at university, whether they had graduated or not. Now, that does not claim a causal connection; it is just simply stating of facts. I do understand that a group like FOSIS that purports to represent Muslim students will seek to respond whenever there is a media focus on Muslim students and terrorism, and there is at times. I can understand that but I think that they are lax in their duty because it is almost a knee-jerk reaction where they say there has never been a case of an ISOC member involved in terrorism, there is no problem with radicalisation whatsoever, and that is simply not true. Abdul Mutalib this year was the fifth senior member of a UK-based ISOC to be convicted for dangerous Islamist terrorist acts.
I think it is not just about the admittedly very small number of Muslim students who have gone on to commit terrorist acts but it is about the atmosphere that is created sometimes on campus by Islamic societies or other organisations who consistently invite a certain type of speaker that does not reflect the plurality of Islam in this country. They are often very narrow, politicised speakers, proponents of Hamas for example, or even Anwar Al-Awlaki. In 2009 there was a university in London that invited him via a video link to address their ISOC annual conference.
As Peter said, this is often people’s first time away from home. If you are a Muslim student, you have come to university, you have joined the Islamic Society, and in the work we did a couple of years ago most people said they joined just to meet like-minded people, to engage in charity. So you join for that reason and if the culmination of your ISOC year is to have a lecture from Anwar Al-Awlaki that simply is not good enough. It has been pointed out to student unions, to ISOC representatives and to university vice-chancellors for a number of years and there does seem to be a level of complacency, or I am not sure if it is an unwillingness to act. I understand it is very difficult because these things are right on the boundaries of freedom of speech and security but I don’t think enough is being done.
Chair: Thank you. I cut you all short here because time is short but if there is anything else you want to add on universities in particular we are very keen to know about this. The Committee is holding a conference next Tuesday at De Montfort in Leicester on this very subject, so any additional information would be gratefully received.
Q370 Michael Ellis: Professor Neumann, if I could ask you first of all, the Government have made some progress, I would suggest to you, in connection with tackling online radicalisation. There is a report that you did called "Countering Online Radicalisation" published a couple of years ago. Do you think the Government have taken your recommendations from your report on board?
Professor Neumann: I think some of the recommendations were taken on board, not all of them. One of our recommendations was to bring strategic prosecutions-not necessarily taking down websites but to prosecute the people who are producing the content for the websites. That has happened, to some extent. There is also a mechanism that the Government have introduced for deciding what kind of content should be taken down and that has also been done. Most importantly, we believe that there is no technical solution to this problem and that this problem needs to be addressed differently, and the Government have followed us there. It is very important to remember-and this is where I think the Government can do more-the internet is the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century. It is nearly 100% in private hands, so the most profitable way for any Government to address this problem is to bring political pressure, in some cases, to bear on internet providers-big internet companies who are hosting extremist videos in places like YouTube, Google, Facebook.
Q371 Michael Ellis: Don’t the Government already do that?
Professor Neumann: They do that to some extent but they could do it more consistently. I believe that, for example, all the measures that have been taken by YouTube to clean up its act have always been in response to political pressure, both from the United States and the United Kingdom. So it is very important that the Government keep that going.
Q372 Michael Ellis: Many of these internet service providers have acceptable behaviour codes, so even where there is not a breach in the law of the country where they may be host they can use these acceptable behaviour codes to take down these offensive websites if it is brought to their attention.
Professor Neumann: Absolutely. This is not about freedom of speech. All these websites, whether it is YouTube or Facebook, have their own rules. They have acceptable behaviours. They all say, "We are against hate speech" and they are very effective in removing sexual content or copyright content. Why can they not be equally effective at removing, for example, extremist Islamist or extremist right-wing content? Primarily, I believe it is because it is not in their commercial interest and that is why it is so important that politicians and Governments bring political pressure to bear so that these companies understand it is important.
Q373 Michael Ellis: Further to that, what does your research indicate is the role of the internet in far right and Al-Qaeda radicalisation-perhaps to Mr Bartlett as well on that? How important do you think the internet is?
Professor Neumann: I think it is becoming increasingly important because it is becoming increasingly important for all of us. There are three key functions: firstly, disseminating extremist content, imagery, video; secondly, it allows extremists to find each other and network; and thirdly, it can of course create a virtual echo chamber where quite extreme views are becoming normalised because very extreme people are allowed to interact with each other. All these functions are quite problematic.
Mr Bartlett: Those points are absolutely accurate. I would just add a couple more. The essential balkanisation of media content, which means people are able to access an incredible array of information now, some of it very good and accurate, some of it very bad, means that people are always able to find information that seems to corroborate their existing world view, whether it is that Sharia law is on the verge of taking over the UK or that the Jews were behind 9/11 or whatever it happens to be, and that can be quickly shared and push the group in an increasingly polarised direction. That is one thing.
The second thing is that there is alongside, as I said, this accurate, quality, niche journalism and good information at least an equal amount of misinformation, propaganda, lies and the rest of it. It is very difficult for young people to be able to negotiate that. A lot of the information that looks very trustworthy and accurate-and people tend to go on aesthetics of websites-is absolutely bogus but we are not taught this in schools because it has happened so quickly. People are not being taught in school how to critically evaluate internet-based content and I think that is one of the biggest weaknesses that we face at the moment. We learn about how libraries work or whatever but as soon as the kids come out of school it is YouTube and it is Facebook and it is link sharing and it is LinkedIn and it is Twitter, but none of that stuff is being taught and I think that needs to be done.
Q374 Michael Ellis: Did you want to add anything, Ms Stuart?
Ms Stuart: I would only add that I think the internet is of growing importance simply because of increased counter-terrorism surveillance techniques and the concerns about the rise of what we call lone wolf terrorism. I think there have been cases since 2008, 2009 and 2010 that all bear that out. That is all I would add.
Q375 Steve McCabe: This question is really for Mr Neumann and it is specifically about prisons. The National Offender Management Service say that prison policy on radicalisation has moved on considerably from your report in, I think it was, 2010. Are they right to say that?
Professor Neumann: When we published our report, NOMS was just starting to implement its strategy on countering extremism in prisons and I understand that a lot of the measures that were started then are now being implemented and that is a good thing. I do give them credit for following a lot of the recommendations that we made in our report and also for taking a lot of criticism on board. So I do believe that they have got the emphasis right. They emphasise staff training, they emphasise aftercare for prisoners, providing mainstream-based services. This is all very positive, but it is very important that committees like yours continue to monitor whether all these good intentions are translated into practice. For now it seems to be the case but it is very important to stay on the case.
Q376 Steve McCabe: Some of the evidence we have received seems to suggest there is very little radicalisation in prison. Is that a fair assumption?
Professor Neumann: I think it is very difficult to say and that is partly because organisations like NOMS, but also prison services in other countries, are not very forthcoming with numbers. So whatever number you read in reports, it is all plucked out of thin air; no one quite knows how many people radicalise in prisons. A lot of the examples that are always being given for prison radicalisation-like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who converted to Islam in prison but radicalised at Brixton mosque outside of prison-are not examples of prison radicalisation. If there is one request I would have of NOMS it would be to publish figures on this because no one quite knows.
Steve McCabe: That is very helpful.
Q377 Chair: We also found when we went to Belmarsh and spoke with Abu Hamza and the governor that there was no tracking system. Once people had left prison, nobody really knew what happened to them and that kind of joined-up approach was extremely important.
Professor Neumann: That is precisely because of people like Richard Reid who are coming out of prison and who are often feeling lost and who may be vulnerable not inside prison but when they come out of it. That is why it is so important to have aftercare provisions that work.
Chair: Mr Bartlett, Professor Neumann, Ms Stuart, you have given us fascinating evidence today. We could carry on questioning you all morning but I am afraid we have other witnesses. If we have missed out anything, please feel free to write to us. We are hoping to conclude this report very shortly. Equally, if you would like to come to Leicester next Tuesday we would be very happy to have you contribute to one of the sessions in the afternoon. Thank you very much for coming.
Examination of Witness
Witness: David Anderson, QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation, gave evidence.
Q378 Chair: Mr Anderson, thank you very much for coming today. I begin by congratulating you on your appointment and welcoming you most warmly to your post. We ought really to have had you before the Committee before today but I am afraid our agenda has become very crowded indeed. But we are most grateful to you for coming today. We will be seeing you more regularly than once a year once we get into the swing of things.
You know what this inquiry is about and we are very keen to ask you a number of questions. I would like to start on the question of proscription. The Government are quite clear they believe that proscription is a way of disrupting organisations and preventing activity that is harmful. You have said that proscription has the ability to disrupt harmful organisations and to change behaviours. You were very clear that you believe that this is the proper approach in certain circumstances. Do you agree that Hizb ut-Tahrir should be proscribed-should be one of the 47 organisations or perhaps should become the 48th organisation to be proscribed?
Mr Anderson: You have thrown me in at the deep end, Chairman. No, I have never sought to make the case for the proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir, nor would I necessarily accept that proscription is effective in every case. I think there are a number of very different types of groups that are proscribed and one rather rough and ready way of examining when proscription might be effective might be to look at the people who are most upset about it happening. From my perspective, in terms of the people I have spoken to and the people who have been very keen to speak to me, you are talking about people, for example, in the Kurdish community, Tamils, you are talking about people in the Baluch community, perhaps also Sikhs-in other words, people who may have sympathy with groups that have been proscribed largely because they represent a terrorist threat to other Governments, rather than because of the fact that they represent a threat to the United Kingdom Government or to UK nationals abroad. It is pretty clear to me that in cases such as that, proscription does have an effect. Whether it is a good effect or a bad effect depends on where you are standing. I am not just thinking about prosecutions, which have always been relatively infrequent and which in very recent years have been almost non-existent, since 2008, although, incidentally, I would not bank on that necessarily continuing.
Q379 Chair: Let’s stick with Hizb ut-Tahrir for a moment. Two serving Prime Ministers have said that they would like to ban this organisation, and therefore they must have evidence to support this view rather than just get up one morning and decide, "We would like to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir". Are you saying that just the mere mention-we have heard evidence, and you were sitting at the back, you heard what was being said-of a possible ban is almost as good as a ban in some cases because people then take care as to what they put on websites and how they approach this subject? Surely if David Cameron and Tony Blair believe these are organisations that ought to be proscribed, they ought to be proscribed?
Mr Anderson: My reading of the counter-terrorism review that this Government undertook when they came into office was that, yes, they were certainly considering that but that they took the view, reluctantly or otherwise, that in order to achieve that you would probably have to amend the law because organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and what one might call its mirror image, the English Defence League, probably don’t go so far as to encourage terrorism in the sense that the Act requires. So you would need to extend the law in order to be able to proscribe it.
Q380 Chair: But you don’t think it should be banned?
Mr Anderson: I think it is a very slippery slope. I don’t have a public position on whether Hizb ut-Tahrir should be banned or not, but from what I know of the organisation I think it would be very difficult to ban it under the existing law. You have just heard from the Henry Jackson Society, and you will have seen their very detailed report, I think last year, that concluded that it would be counterproductive and ultimately undesirable to ban them.
Q381 Chair: I have here the list of proscribed terrorist organisations that I have just obtained and on there-you have mentioned the Tamils-is the LTTE. The LTTE have never operated in the United Kingdom. I don’t recognise many of these names. I have heard of some of them, but I know the LTTE because I have a number of Tamils in my constituency. Now, they have never operated in the UK. They have been basically finished off by the Sri Lankan Government; the leader has been killed. Why does that remain on the list, for example? Shouldn’t somebody be looking at this list on a regular basis and saying, "Well, in this particular case the group has never operated here, doesn’t exist any more. Should it be banned?"
Mr Anderson: I entirely agree, Chairman, with the thrust of your question, as you will know if you have read my report. Of course there are reviews. Every organisation on the list is reviewed administratively every year but, because there is no necessary parliamentary input or judicial input and because listing doesn’t lapse unless it is specifically renewed, as is the case, for example, under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010, it is very difficult to see why a Minister would ever want to take the initiative and de-proscribe any organisation at all. In fact no Minister since 2000 has done that in relation to any organisation. The only one that has been de-proscribed-
Q382 Chair: Do you think there ought to be a mechanism to allow some organisations, should they feel that they need to challenge the decision outside the courts-because, of course, there is a legal method of doing this-to, for example, petition Parliament about it, or should there be a new method of trying to get the Government to focus on some of these organisations?
Mr Anderson: I think something needs to be done. You might have seen in my report there is a reference to "difficult cases", which is a term of art in this world. As I understand a difficult case, what it means is a case in which the statutory test for proscription is, at least arguably, not satisfied but it is very difficult to know what to do about it because you might embarrass a foreign Government or it might all be terribly difficult to lift the Pandora’s box on Northern Ireland or whatever it might be. So at the end of the day the history of the last 10 years shows nothing happens in relation to these.
The suggestion I made in my report I thought was rather a modest suggestion. My understanding is it is being considered but what the outcome of that consideration will be I don’t know. It is that these proscriptions should be time limited, rather like asset freezes under the 2010 Act-you could say rather like TPIMs under the forthcoming TPIM legislation-with the result that if after two years, or whatever it is, the Minister decides that he really wants to renew the listing he will have to come before Parliament with some good reasons why. It seems to me that, apart from anything else, makes things easier for the Minister, because if he is under pressure from a foreign Government to retain the listing of some organisation that appears not to have been active for years, it is much easier if he can say, "I am sorry, I would love to help you but-"
Q383 Chair: Is that where the push comes from? In effect it is not domestic pressure, it is the Government of Sri Lanka or one of the Arab Governments that are on to the Foreign Secretary to say, "This should be banned"?
Mr Anderson: Certainly not in every case but, as I said in my report, some of these organisations are listed, at least partly, in order to please foreign Governments. I have no doubt about that at all.
Q384 Dr Huppert: I welcome you rather belatedly to your role and wish you good luck in managing to avoid going native and keep your independence. It is a challenge. As I understand it, no non-Irish domestic group has ever been proscribed at all. Is that correct and why do think that is? Does that say, as the Chair was suggesting, that it is really just that foreign Governments drive the proscription process?
Mr Anderson: No, I don’t think it is just driven by foreign Governments. For example, I would be very surprised if Al-Muhajiroun was driven by foreign Governments. Anjem Choudary’s perspective is largely a UK perspective. The reason one usually sees for this is that these far right organisations in particular just are not of the size or degree of organisation of some of the organisations that are proscribed. I do wonder-and this might be worth exploring with the Minister-whether there may also be a disconnect in terms of the civil servants concerned with this matter. It is something one sees at the Home Office. It is something one sees at the Crown Prosecution Service. There will be a terrorist department, as it were, but far right extremism is in a slightly different box. Everyone accepts that it can, if it is violent, meet the statutory definition of terrorism but it is not always looked at by the same people or at the same time. So it may be that there is an element of that.
Q385 Dr Huppert: I think that is very helpful and I am interested in your description that it is a question of size and degree of the organisation. You argue the far right ones don’t have that. Are you persuaded that all of the international groups on the list do have that level of size or degree? Do you think we are applying a balanced effect? If not, why not?
Mr Anderson: No. If one took something like the Abu Nidal organisation, for example, I am not persuaded. I don’t know whether it exists or how big it is but it is certainly not very big. So, no, I wouldn’t say they were all large organisations.
Q386 Dr Huppert: So we are being inconsistent in our application of the proscription rules?
Mr Anderson: Well, possibly. I am not an expert on these far right groups and I can well understand that with the English Defence League you are looking at something like Hizb ut-Tahrir where arguably they have been careful enough not to infringe the current statutory test. If you are looking at something like, say, the Aryan Strike Force, which is probably a rather more overtly violent organisation-two members of it were convicted last year, as you will know, of the Ricin plot-there one may be in that territory. But I suppose one comes into the area of saying, "Well, is it a sensible thing to do or are we just looking at half a dozen people here, proscribing whom is simply going to give them a status that they don’t currently possess?"
Q387 Nicola Blackwood: I wanted to ask you about the glorification sections of the Terrorism Act. Since that Act in 2006, groups who glorify terrorism have also been eligible for proscription. I wondered if you had any concerns whether the definition of glorification has any risks for free speech and whether that definition is too broad or vague. There were some concerns at the time.
Mr Anderson: I think when it originally came to Parliament after 7/7 there certainly were such concerns and there were questions about whether you could speak approvingly of Robert the Bruce or Nelson Mandela without glorifying terrorism. It seems to me that Parliament went quite a long way towards neutralising that particular risk by adding that it is only glorification if you are encouraging people to emulate that behaviour in the present or in the future. That is a test that is common both to section 1 and section 2 of the 2006 Act where you have the criminal offences. It is also common to the proscription condition.
I have read Professor Walker’s evidence, and I have the very highest regard for Professor Walker; indeed he does, on a very part-time basis, operate as my special adviser. He points out-I think it is a lawyer’s point-that there is a very subtle difference in the way in which glorification comes in, section 1 and 2 on the one hand, where it is limited only to the indirect encouragement of terrorism, and under proscription, on the other, where it is available to prove direct encouragement of terrorism. I can see the inconsistency. Whether it has any practical importance, I am not so sure. It seems to me if you are going to have, as a criminal offence, the encouragement of terrorism or the dissemination of terrorist material under section 1 and section 2, it is at least logical that an organisation that promotes such activity should itself be a proscribed organisation.
Q388 Nicola Blackwood: Do you have any concerns also about the problems where the words of an individual, perhaps glorifying terrorism under the definitions and which we would all agree would be inciting violence, would then be attributed to the group and would result in a proscription, which would perhaps be considered to be disproportionate?
Mr Anderson: I can’t say I have observed that problem in practice. With Hizb ut-Tahrir for example, those who would like to see it proscribed will sometimes put together scrapbooks of things that individuals all over the world who have at one time or another claimed some connection with Hizb ut-Tahrir have said, but it has not resulted in the case being made out for the proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir. So I think it is a real danger. I believe the danger is anticipated in section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and in practice I am not aware of problems that it has caused.
Q389 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think there is a need to clarify section 3 in order to avoid this or do you think that in practice the precedent has removed that need?
Mr Anderson: Section 1 and section 2 of the 2006 Act are difficult, and this is a difficult section too. One is always wary of these very widely worded statutory powers because a great deal of emphasis is placed on the good sense of prosecutors and, in this case, the good sense of Ministers in deciding how to use those powers. I think all one can say is that I haven’t seen evidence of abuse at this stage.
Q390 Mr Winnick: In no way reflecting on your position, Mr Anderson, you are well known as a leading lawyer and so on-and you are wondering what I am now going to ask you-did the appointment come out of the blue, so to speak?
Mr Anderson: It came completely out of the blue. I could tell you how it happened if you are interested but time may be short.
Q391 Mr Winnick: One or two questions. You never hesitated in taking up the appointment?
Mr Anderson: It was indicated that a speedy answer would be appreciated and I said if I was the sort of person who would jump to that particular command then I was not the sort of independent person they needed to do the job, so I took my time. But, having thought about it, I accepted.
Q392 Mr Winnick: And why not. Can I ask you about your position? Your predecessor, equally distinguished-to some extent what Mr Huppert asked you about going native-without in any way criticising him as such, it is a free country, involved himself in the controversy over pre-charge detention, make it clear either 90 days or just leave it to the court. Is it your intention to give opinion that really is a matter for Parliament?
Mr Anderson: My predecessor was already a politician and I am not a politician. I have never had any political involvement and I don’t see it as part of my role to get into politics or to fancy myself as a politician.
Q393 Mr Winnick: I think that answers the question. Just one other question that is not related to your appointment, which I think I would be right in saying the Committee welcomes. On the question of changing names arising from banning, is there any real purpose in banning unless it is absolutely essential, because if an organisation is banned then presumably it changes its name within a matter of hours or days and we are back to square one?
Mr Anderson: I would not be quite as negative as that about it. There are some organisations, of course, that have a lot of what I believe might be called brand equity. Something as resonant as the UVF or the Red Hand Commandos or the IRA is a very powerful brand and it is not simply going to rename itself and re-form under another guise. I suspect the problem, so far at least, has been limited to Al-Muhajiroun and its various aliases, and I think there is an element probably of delight in outwitting the Government by dissolving one organisation and forming another as soon as it is proscribed. I can see the risk that the Government would look foolish by that happening. But I don’t think that is a reason for not doing it. I think at least by doing it that way one prevents those organisations from building up a brand equity of their own, because if they can’t use the name any more they have to find a new one.
The other thing to remember is that it is provided in the Act itself that if you can establish in a court that the organisation that someone is a part of is in substance the same as an organisation that is proscribed, all the consequences of proscription must follow.
Mr Winnick: So it is a safeguard.
Q394 Alun Michael: As my colleague David Winnick has raised the issue of your predecessor’s comments on the 90-day requirement, my memory of that is that his comment was that any number of days was problematic and that an unjustified detention of a couple of days could be unduly onerous. So it was not about the 90 days in the political decision, it was about the legal problems involved with that process. In such circumstances, as a lawyer, would you feel able to comment on proposals, either in favour of them, against them or in pointing out difficulties?
Mr Anderson: I think we last saw each other at the Joint Committee that existed in order to consider these matters and what I said to the Joint Committee was that when Sue Hemming, perhaps the most experienced counter-terrorism prosecutor in Europe, says that she can’t imagine a case that would require more than 28 days I could see no argument whatsoever for allowing more than 28 days. So that was my starting point.
Q395 Alun Michael: But your predecessor’s point was that the use within any existing number of days also needs to be looked at very much on the basis of what is the evidence and therefore to follow the evidence because detention is onerous unless it is well justified.
Mr Anderson: Yes.
Q396 Alun Michael: Could you explain what you see as the main problems with the de-proscription process, what you have recommended and what the Government have indicated about their planned response?
Mr Anderson: The problem is that nobody ever gets de-proscribed. One group has been de-proscribed and that was a well-funded group that went to the expense of a seven-day hearing in front of the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission, special advocates, expert witnesses brought in from Iran, a full-dress hearing and at the end of the day for them a satisfactory result, although even that went up to the Court of Appeal. I am quite sure it must have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds-how many hundreds of thousands I would not like to say. What is needed is a way of ensuring that pointless or redundant listings can be removed at an earlier stage. I think there are various ways of doing that. The way I suggested is that a sunset clause be put on any new listing so that it expires within, say, two years unless the Minister is prepared to come to Parliament with the evidence for renewing it. My sense is that would operate quite effectively in concentrating the Minister’s mind and perhaps emboldening the Minister, in a case where a foreign Government might quite like the idea of the proscription but we can’t see that it satisfies the test any more, to bite the bullet and have it de-proscribed. In terms of what the Government-
Q397 Alun Michael: Are you sure it would work as intended? When you look at previous sunset clauses there has tended to be, irrespective of Government, a whipped vote to maintain what has become the status quo. I am thinking of things like terrorist legislation in relation to Northern Ireland.
Mr Anderson: Perhaps unusually for a lawyer, I am saying you don’t need the courts to do this, you can trust Parliament to do a good job and you can trust the Minister to feel suitably intimidated by the thought of bringing a bad case to Parliament. I very much hope that is the case. If that is not the case one could easily imagine a more lawyerly solution. One could say that every time it is proposed to renew a proscription the matter must be brought before a court that will sift the evidence, no doubt hear some of it in secret, no doubt hear witnesses from some of these foreign countries, and then pronounce on what it is doing. Indeed, that may be quite close to what Professor Walker is suggesting, and as a lawyer one accepts there is obviously a self-interest in these sorts of procedures.
Q398 Alun Michael: It has quite often been suggested that we sometimes get muddled about procedures-indeed, that was one of the issues before the Joint Committee that you referred to earlier-and ask lawyers to take decisions that are essentially political and ask politicians to take decisions on the granular detail of legislation that, if they are legally qualified, is a coincidence to the role of the MP rather than a part of it. Can I probe a little more deeply as to why you think this is-
Mr Anderson: Yes, I very much agree. I think this is a borderline case between a case where it is appropriate for the courts and appropriate for Parliament. I think the reason why Parliament does have a role here is that if you look at the five factors that were identified in 2000 as informing the discretion to proscribe, the fifth of them is the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. My impression is that that is not just a makeweight; that is probably one of the more important of the five factors. I could understand why Parliament would want to have a view on that, always aware, of course, that there is the backstop of an application to POAC if it can ever be got off the ground.
Q399 Mr Winnick: Without raking up too much-and I am probably responsible for raking up some of the past controversy-for the record, your predecessor did defend the 90 days and then argued some months afterwards that it should be left simply to the court. So should you want to look up the records and see what should perhaps be avoided, it might do some good.
Mr Anderson: I hope it is clear I am not expressing any view of my predecessor other than that he did a very distinguished job for a very long time.
Mr Winnick: I understand that. I am sure.
Chair: We will go and look up the record.
Q400 Michael Ellis: Mr Anderson, rather belated congratulations on your appointment earlier this year. On the review that this Government have undertaken of counter-terrorism powers and the subsequent legislation-I am thinking of replacing control orders and restrictions on the ability of police to stop and search without suspicion and the like-do you have any evidence that suggests that this legislation has mitigated a sense of grievance that is apparently felt by some members of the Muslim community?
Mr Anderson: My impression of the measures that cause grievance, at least the ones that I am told about time after time, is that section 44, the stop and search power, certainly used to be in that category. One might infer from the fact that it is not used any more that it no longer fuels grievance, though needless to say it is not the sort of thing people necessarily volunteer when you talk to them. But it was a power that was used, I think, almost a million times and not a single conviction for a terrorist offence resulted. Talking to the police now it is quite rare to find a police officer who says, "Yes, I wish we had section 44 back again." It seems to have gone with rather little-
Michael Ellis: Is there-
Mr Anderson: The other one is schedule 7 because that also, of course, affects a huge number of people. You see the figure for 80,000 a year, 60,000 a year, whatever it is, actually examined at ports but, of course, that is dwarfed by the figure of the people who are taken aside at a port and asked a few questions. I hear a lot about that from minority ethnic communities.
In terms of control orders, 14 to 28 days, I suspect-there will be others who know more about this than me-these matters were never a major source of radicalisation in the first place. They affect so few people that they were not really a rallying point in the way that perhaps internment was in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.
Q401 Michael Ellis: Of the remaining powers, is there one that stands out that you hear and feel is causing most resentment in these affected communities?
Mr Anderson: I think schedule 7 needs a review, and I said that in my report, not that I think it is not a useful power. It is very unlike section 44.
Q402 Michael Ellis: Don’t most countries retain some stop and search powers-or stop and question powers, I should say-at their ports and airports similar, if not even more stringent, than ours in the UK?
Mr Anderson: Of course countries in the Schengen area can do very much less than we can, at least at their internal European borders, and for many of those countries internal European borders are largely what they have. So in that sense, perhaps, we do stick out a bit. But I think there are a number of problems with schedule 7 and one of them, frankly, is database quality. One finds blameless pillars of the community being stopped time after time after time again. One can only assume that it must be on the basis that there is some duff information somewhere in the system that is not being cleaned out quickly enough.
Q403 Chair: What kind of co-operation are you getting with Charles Farr and the office that he heads? If you ask for information, do you get it readily?
Mr Anderson: I do. I find everybody very willing to talk, and I have not so far been refused a document that I have asked for. It doesn’t always mean that I know the right document to ask for, but the ones I have asked for I have always been shown. I think they know that if I am not shown a document I will record that fact in my next report to Parliament.
Q404 Chair: In respect of the recent case of Raed Salah, you had some comments to make to the effect that the border will never be absolutely secure, there is always the risk that someone who has been banned by the Home Secretary, notwithstanding measures that have been taken, will end up coming into this country. Is that what you said, or have I misquoted you?
Mr Anderson: Yes. I was asked by a journalist what the impact of the border control row was on terrorism, and I think one of the points I made is that regrettably zero risk is not attainable and, indeed, it is probably not a very sensible objective. Jonathan Evans, the Director of MI5, said as much in a public talk last autumn, where he said he felt that to go down the route of pursuing zero risk was counter-productive and would lead to a misallocation of resources.
Q405 Chair: Would you expect to be doing more of these independent reports? We know you have to present a report to Parliament on a case like Raed Salah, which was given to HMIC to deal with, Her Majesty’s Inspectors. Would you be in a position to take on individual cases of that kind? Is that part of your remit?
Mr Anderson: As you know, I am on my own. I don’t have a staff or an office, and where there are other reviewers, be it John Vine of UKBA or the HMIC, I think it would not only be tactless but a very poor use of my resources to try and duplicate ground that they are already covering. But I would very much hope to do more snapshot reports, yes.
Q406 Chair: But if you had those resources to do the work on this very crucial issue of monitoring and reporting as an independent person, would you value those additional resources to do that? I am not saying you have come here with a begging bowl. This is my suggestion to you. In order to do your work more effectively, would it be helpful if you had an office like John Vine, maybe not as big as John Vine’s office but a capacity to be supported in the work that you do? This is still a very hot issue in Parliament and among the public.
Mr Anderson: Yes. I have always been self-employed, I have always done everything on my own, I have always stood behind every word I have written, so those are my instincts and my desire is to make a go of this job, doing it as well as I can on my own, making my own judgments and standing or falling by them. I am conscious, of course, of the budgetary position as well as my own instincts when I say that, but there may come a point where the job is simply too big for one person. It has already got quite a lot bigger, even since I took it over because I had the asset-freezing function, and I have a report on that that will be coming out shortly. I will also have to do reports on people who are detained for more than 14 days, and under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 I have a completely new function about people in detention places in Northern Ireland and in Paddington Green and elsewhere.
Q407 Chair: As you say, there is an international dimension to all this. You can’t be expected to be an expert in every single country.
Mr Anderson: One can do a certain amount by reading but there comes a time when, for example, a week in the Netherlands or a week in the United States or a week in Canada just to get to the bottom of how they do things there would be extremely useful.
Chair: Indeed. Mr Anderson, on behalf of the Committee may we wish you well in your new post? Sorry that it has taken so long to have you before us, but we will see you again in the not too distant future.
Mr Anderson: I look forward to that. Thank you very much indeed.
Chair: Thank you very much.
Examination of Witness
Witness: James Brokenshire, MP, Minister for Crime and Security, Home Office, gave evidence.
Q408 Chair: Minister, thank you very much for coming to give evidence to the Committee, and can I begin by thanking you most warmly for agreeing to speak at the Committee’s conference in Leicester next week? We look forward very much to your keynote address.
I start with a general question about the Prevent Strategy and the information that we have picked up. We obviously know that you are extremely busy, you can’t read every single bit of evidence that a Select Committee has received, but we have picked up information that suggests that the traditional methods of radicalisation, such as prisons and universities, have given way to radicalisation in the home, that this is something that happens, in a sense, offline where people have a focus on it, though it may obviously be online on the internet. Is that your impression as well? Is some of this generally happening not in the traditional areas that we might expect but in the privacy of people’s homes?
Mr Brokenshire: I think, as you will appreciate, Mr Chairman, this whole concept of radicalisation is a process and not an event. It is something that we underline quite clearly, and therefore looking at areas of vulnerability, either in individuals and also potentially areas, places where radicalisation can take place, I think we are detecting a change in behaviour, and that it is maybe partly drawn by the use of the Terrorism Act legislation and the radicalisation taking place outside of public areas, in people’s homes, in more discreet areas. There is no simple picture that we can provide in connection with this. This is complex in terms of pathways and how individuals are different. If you look at things like the internet, that can be a factor but it normally would have some sort of personal contact to buttress or support that, but not always. So it is a complex picture that we are having that greater understanding of now and how some of this radicalisation is taking place outside of those public spaces.
Q409 Chair: Do you think it is on the increase?
Mr Brokenshire: I think it is difficult to say that it is on the increase. Certainly the evidence that we have seen is that if you look at the number of people who have said in connection with, for example, the Citizenship Survey that in some way they support some sort of violent action to support their beliefs or their value set, it is a very, very small number. I think it was around 1% on the last Citizenship Survey. So I wouldn’t say that I detect that there is some increase. It is assessing whether there are different communities that we are looking at.
Q410 Chair: So it is not on the increase?
Mr Brokenshire: I am not detecting that there is an increase in the overall numbers.
Q411 Chair: So is it on the decrease or is it stabilised?
Mr Brokenshire: I would say it is stable.
Q412 Chair: Is it an embarrassment for the Home Office that the Prime Minister wants to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir? He made that very clear as Leader of the Opposition, but it remains the case that what he regards as a terrorist organisation is still functioning without a ban. When he sees you at all these meetings, does he come up to you and say, "James, why is this not banned? I have been calling for this for two years"?
Mr Winnick: He knows his name, does he?
Mr Brokenshire: As you will appreciate, Mr Chairman, we don’t give a running commentary on organisations that may or may not be being considered for proscription.
Q413 Chair: No, but he has made a public statement, not a running commentary. He has said he wants this banned.
Mr Brokenshire: Well, we don’t have a running commentary because, as you will appreciate, Mr Chairman, there is the law in relation to proscription that does exist, and therefore the relevant statutory test that needs to be applied in that way, and clearly-
Chair: So that is the problem?
Mr Brokenshire: -we will always ensure that the law is applied.
Q414 Chair: Well, of course. So the Prime Minister has said he wants it banned. Tony Blair said he wants Hizb ut-Tahrir banned. We don’t wish for a running commentary, because we have a public commentary from the Prime Minister. The Home Office’s view is, "Sorry, we can’t do it because it doesn’t come within the law. We are not able to do it." Is that basically the answer?
Mr Brokenshire: In terms of analysing any organisation and whether it should be proscribed or not, as this Committee will recognise the Home Secretary has to satisfy the statutory tests under the Terrorism Act 2000, which is having evidence that an organisation is concerned in terrorism. Therefore it is within that statutory framework that the Home Secretary will operate, rightly, within the framework of the law, and therefore it is in the application of the law that this obviously operates and the decisions that are taken.
Q415 Chair: So the Prime Minister would like Hizb ut-Tahrir banned, but the Home Secretary is not satisfied that the tests have been met?
Mr Brokenshire: As I say, I am not going to comment on individual organisations, but what I say is that any-
Q416 Chair: No, of course I am asking you to comment on it because the Prime Minister has mentioned this. It has been a source of our questions during this session. Is the fact that it is not banned that it has not achieved the tests necessary for the law?
Mr Brokenshire: I think that if an organisation-
Q417 Chair: Would you like to see it banned?
Mr Brokenshire: We keep organisations under close review, and Hizb ut-Tahrir is an organisation that has been identified as causing concern with potential links of some individuals who have been former members who have gone on to commit terrorist activity. But clearly the law provides the rules in terms of whether an organisation should be proscribed or not, and therefore Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been proscribed, in essence, while we continue to monitor, because of the requirements of the law.
Q418 Chair: That is very helpful. We have a list of the 47 organisations that have been proscribed. We have heard from the Independent Reviewer just now about what he feels should be an amendment to the law. How often would you see this list and how often would Ministers review the 47? We have seen no organisations that have been de-proscribed. I used an example of the LTTE, which has never operated in the UK, as far as we can see, and has been completely destroyed by the Sri Lankan Government; that is what they claim anyway. Why, for example, does the LTTE still remain on the list?
Mr Brokenshire: All organisations that have been proscribed are kept under regular review. There is a Proscription Working Group, and in relation to the LTTE this was last considered by the cross-Government Proscription Working Group in May of this year, and the group concluded that the organisation remained concerned in terrorism and the proscription should be maintained. That was the assessment of the working group at that time. So there are regular reviews of organisations that are proscribed, but I am mindful of the recommendations of the Independent Reviewer, who you have heard just give evidence, and his suggestions on timelines and whether there should be a specified period. The Home Secretary has made clear that we will consider very carefully the recommendation that the Independent Reviewer has put forward in that regard.
Chair: Excellent, thank you.
Q419 Nicola Blackwood: The Prevent Review drew a close connection, I think, between non-violent extremism and violent extremism, which resulted in some changes of funding decisions, but it also decided to draw a greater distinction between dealing with non-violent extremism in the DCLG and dealing with terrorism in the Home Office as a result of some concerns about Prevent being seen as spy activities and so on. Could you explain how those two strands of thought came about a little bit?
Mr Brokenshire: I think that there was a lot of careful consideration as to where Prevent and broader integration strategies sat alongside each other. Our analysis-and this was something that came out through the consultation very strongly-was the perception that combining Prevent and work on cohesion created the impression that the Government were supporting cohesion projects only for security reasons, only for counter-terrorism reasons. In some ways this was, I think, leading to confusion, and so we would find that by combining the two that the wider integration work may not be effective because it would be seen from the prism of counter-terrorism, and indeed, from a Prevent perspective, if it is then channelled through broader cohesion funding, might not achieve its objectives in relation to stopping terrorist incidents. So it was felt very clearly that separating them was important so that there was greater focus in relation to the work of Prevent stopping terrorism, and then the broader work in relation to integration, led by the Department for Communities and Local Government, on the community cohesion and integration issues in that way. But they do sit alongside each other. I wouldn’t say that they are separated in terms of a big gap between them, but they are alongside rather than overlapping and being confused in that sense, and I think that having that greater clarity aids the delivery of both of those objectives.
Q420 Nicola Blackwood: One of the concerns that was reported by the previous Communities and Local Government Committee was that there was poor communication between Departments on Prevent work under the previous Prevent Strategy, and obviously there will be work between Departments on this new Prevent strategy. I wonder if there are some new working patterns that will be put in place to try and improve working between Departments on this.
Mr Brokenshire: I have certainly met with colleagues from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health, and those Departments are charged with the responsibility for their various different workings. The Department for Education also has its roles and responsibilities in connection with schools. We are very clear of the need for good join-up across Government and I believe that that is what is being achieved, recognising the clear Prevent objectives, but how they need to be responded to and reflected within those different Departments as well. So, for example, the Department of Health has just published guidance to healthcare professionals in terms of how Prevent operates, how it fits within the broad safeguarding arena, because so much of this is about safeguarding vulnerability, picking up on those factors that may point to vulnerability and people being exploited in that way. So I think we are seeing this much broader connection between the work of the Home Office as well as other Departments in this arena.
Q421 Nicola Blackwood: Does the National Security Council have any role in co-ordination for this?
Mr Brokenshire: The National Security Council has ultimate oversight over the delivery of the content, of which Prevent is one pillar of the overall strategy. So, yes, the National Security Council does have ultimate oversight and then the Prevent board sits underneath that in terms of monitoring the performance and the objectives.
Q422 Nicola Blackwood: One of the particular areas of concern that I have, representing a university seat, is the role of universities in Prevent, and you mentioned the Department for Education and the Department of Health. I wonder if you have been meeting with higher education colleagues to discuss the response of universities to some of their responsibilities within Prevent?
Mr Brokenshire: Of course, and I have met with David Willetts in relation to this, and the role that universities play as a potential area where radicalisation may occur. Radicalisation may take place off campus in more private areas, but it is recognised that this is a location where there are potential risks and potential opportunities for intervening to stop radicalisation progressing, recognising that I think around a third, around 30% of those who have been convicted of terrorist-related offences for Al-Qaeda Islamist-related terrorism have been through universities, and so it is looking at it in that connection.
Q423 Nicola Blackwood: We have received evidence from Universities UK and other student societies that, while they recognise that they have a duty to manage risk, they don’t believe that there is much hard evidence that violent groups target universities. Is that the standard response that you have had from universities or has there been a more positive response from universities to the proposals within Prevent?
Mr Brokenshire: What I can say is that I think there has been some good work that has been under way in higher education and further education colleges, with further guidance. The NUS, I think, has produced, with support from Prevent, some very good guidance on identifying potential issues-the risk associated, for example, with external speakers and providing training-how that can be best operated. So there is continual dialogue. I think that there is more work to be done in that arena, but I think that there is also the recognition of universities and colleges being a potential area of risk, of-as I have already highlighted-the proportion of those who have been convicted of these types of offences having passed through universities. But as I have said, it is not a simple picture. There are different areas, different locations, different vulnerabilities, but I think it is right that the Prevent Strategy picks up on those potential locations, spaces where radicalisation may occur, whether that be universities or healthcare settings or other settings as well, and that we seek to address this important issue in that context.
Q424 Michael Ellis: Minister, can I just ask you about Channel, which as you know is a multi-agency programme co-ordinated by the police and set up to identify and help and protect people who are at risk of radicalisation and provide support for them. The Prevent Review states that the Government are considering possible changes to the governance of Channel, but it doesn’t elaborate further. I would like to ask you about the funding decisions concerning this Channel organisation, because at the moment, as I understand it, funding decisions about Channel providers are taken by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism.
Mr Brokenshire: Yes.
Michael Ellis: Do you think that there is some rationale in devolving those decisions to local police on the ground who might, after all, know organisations and the communities they serve better than the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Minister?
Mr Brokenshire: The Channel project, as I think you will be aware, Mr Ellis, is where there are referrals from different organisations, whether that be education, whether that be health, whether that be the police themselves, where elements of vulnerability linked to pathways to terrorism have been identified, and therefore referrals for interventions that may obviously stop and prevent that progress. I think Channel has been a very successful programme to date and what we want to do is to ensure that that is harnessed further. Channel is currently funded in 12 police force areas, and all of these areas have interventions provided by statutory partners. In addition, there are eight community intervention providers based in three force areas, in London, in the West Midlands and also in Derbyshire. I suppose in that way there is the funding that is provided to police force areas, and so there is decision-making that is taken in that way. So I wouldn’t characterise it as micromanagement in that sort of top-down sense, that there is that devolution in that way.
Q425 Michael Ellis: You don’t think it is over-centralised?
Mr Brokenshire: No, I don’t think it is. What we are focused on is ensuring that, for example, referrals to Channel are appropriate. We are seeking to, for example, introduce a new case management system to better handle the referrals once they are made, and also ensure that vulnerability itself isn’t then confused with perhaps some sort of indication of terrorism, and simply because a person is vulnerable or is showing factors of vulnerability, that does not mean automatically that they are in need of support or in need of assistance from the Channel providers. So if I look at the indicators, these include opinions expressed, such as support for violence and terrorism, possession of materials that support extremism, including online material, behavioural changes, such as withdrawal from family and peers, and personal history, such as claims of involvement in extremist organisations. So there are indicators that are there, and I think it is ensuring that those are understood and people are using professional judgment on the referrals so that, again, it is working in the appropriate way, that the support services are there and also the referrals are as appropriate as can be.
Q426 Michael Ellis: So the changes that are envisaged to the governance of Channel are ones along those lines in terms of making it more efficient and working better?
Mr Brokenshire: Yes. Obviously we are looking very much at the principles of the new Prevent strategy, how we may address variation of performance perhaps between regions as well, and also the extension of providing coverage across the rest of England and Wales, and the Channel co-ordinators are going to be focused on the 25 priority areas, but how their expertise can be available to all areas through regional co-ordination of their activities. So it is about how we can reach out and use the expertise that is there in a further advanced way.
Q427 Mr Winnick: I want to ask you very briefly-because I am trying to get into a Westminster Hall debate on police closures, but we won’t go into that at the moment-about two or three years ago the head of MI5 said there were 2,000 individuals in Britain who could present a danger to the security of our country. Would you stand by that particular figure or around it now, Minister?
Mr Brokenshire: You are right, the Director General of the Security Service said in 2007 that there was a number of around 2,000. I think that this does give a sense of the scale of the number of individuals in the UK who currently act in support of violent extremist ideology, and so I think that what-
Q428 Mr Winnick: The figure hasn’t changed much?
Mr Brokenshire: I think it is very difficult to be precise. I think in many ways, coming back to the question-
Q429 Chair: Well, 2,000 sounds very precise to me. It even has a round figure at the end.
Mr Brokenshire: It is a round number, I agree with you, Mr Chairman. But I think that in many ways, coming back to the Chair’s question to me earlier on, it does give a sense of the scale and nature of the challenge that is there, and the number that was indicated by the Director General four years ago now is, I think, a good indication of the continuing challenge that we face.
Q430 Alun Michael: It is a fairly obvious point that the views of UK foreign policy have on occasions been a driver of disillusionment, and sometimes that leads to radicalisation. On the other hand, we have had a number of things, like the British Government support for ordinary Muslims in the Arab Spring, and we have seen the campaign in Libya. Is there any evidence that that has led to a more positive image among disaffected British Muslims?
Mr Brokenshire: I think you are right, Mr Michael, to fasten on this. As you were asking the question, I was just looking at the Prevent strategy and the propositions that are perhaps used in the narrative by Al-Qaeda and how they claim that obviously the West is at war with Islam and that Muslims in Western countries cannot associate or link with non-Muslims in a democratic process. Therefore, I think foreign policy is relevant in this context, very relevant, and what we have sought to do is very much externally to project a positive image of British Muslims overseas. There has been a programme of visits by prominent British Muslims to Muslim majority countries and countries with a significant Muslim minority to again paint that clear picture and to challenge misconceptions as to the reality of life.
Q431 Alun Michael: I think that is true, but if you look at the intervention in Bosnia, for instance, very much a situation in which there was defence of the rights of the lives of individual Muslims, that didn’t seem to act as a counterbalance to some of the other events. Do we need to learn lessons about the way we portray what we do abroad to a domestic audience?
Mr Brokenshire: I think that is one part of it, the projection externally, but again there is the important part of the outreach work on challenging misconceptions and perceptions here. I was quite struck by an example of some work that is being undertaken on organising for the MOD to brief the Pashtun community in Birmingham ahead of the deployment to Afghanistan to explain what their purpose and role and function was, to again challenge potential misconceptions as to what their activity was for. I think that it is through elements like that that we can seek to challenge, that we can seek to address this narrative of the West in some way having some conflicts against Islam, which is wholly false. It is not the case and I utterly reject that. I think the programmes have been well received, but we need to continue to make that challenge, to continue to address that narrative that points in that different direction, that in many ways the terrorist organisations feed upon to radicalise and to support their activity, which is why I think that whole piece of work within Prevent is just so essential.
Q432 Alun Michael: Another thing on to which they can latch, of course, is the way that the newspapers and the media cover international events and international policy, which can range from the gung-ho to the very narrow in terms of the agenda being dealt with. That is presumably a challenge for Ministers as well, isn’t it? Do you think it is appropriate for the Government perhaps to encourage reporting that is a little more objective, shall we say?
Mr Brokenshire: I think there are obviously other inquiries and investigations in relation to press and other items at the moment, but I think that it is incumbent on us as Ministers to do all we can to challenge that narrative, to challenge that perception across Government and use opportunities where we can to do that. In many ways the inquiry that you are holding is an important way for Government, and other participants and other organisations as well, to underline what the programme is about, which is providing safety to all communities in this country, and challenge some of that narrative that might otherwise suggest that that isn’t the case.
Q433 Chair: Thank you. Two quick questions about things that have happened in the last 24 hours. One is that the Olympic security bill has now reached £1 billion. That is £7 an hour for the whole of the Olympic period. As Security Minister, are you confident that that is enough or do you need more?
Mr Brokenshire: Mr Chairman, we are confident with the work that has been ongoing in relation to the Olympic security plan, that this is now being tested and there are exercises that are ongoing to ensure that this will deliver the safe and secure Games that we are committed to. We are confident that the overall plan can be delivered within the £9.3 billion overall envelope for the Olympics. Yes, there have been changes and the NAO report this morning underlines that and the briefing that was provided by colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday. I think that that is as a consequence of the development of that work, development of the planning around individual events, and I think it shows the real work that has gone in around all of this.
Q434 Chair: Yes, but is it still the case that the Metropolitan Police would like a little bit more time and more officers before you remove the relocation powers in TPIMs? Have they asked you for more time?
Mr Brokenshire: I have seen a letter that Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has sent to the Committee underlining that there was a request to extend the time period to 42 days from 28 days to manage the Christmas period, to aid the transition to TPIMs from control orders, which we acceded to. I think the Commissioner also underlines that the Metropolitan Police have received all of the financial support that they had requested and have made clear that effective arrangements will be in place to transition from control orders to TPIMs when the new regime comes into effect.
Q435 Chair: Finally, you made a speech yesterday to missing people when you talked about the difficulties that families face with the loss of some 200,000 people going missing every year, which is an astonishing figure. Do we know how many of the 200,000 are children?
Mr Brokenshire: Of the 200,000, it is around two-thirds that represent children. It is in many ways why I was very clear about the need to support our work, why we felt that CEOP going into the National Crime Agency would be strengthened there, how the Missing Persons Bureau will now also sit within the NCA and I think that will strengthen activity here. As you may well be aware, CEOP launched some very practical guidance, a new website yesterday, to be able to help direct those loved ones who are left behind to know where to get help and guidance, as well as the educational programme that CEOP do so well on child protection and how that now will be extended to missing as well.
Q436 Chair: We accept all that and the structural changes, which we support for the moment, that CEOP should go into the NCA, but are you confident that individual police forces-that is where the problem seems to be-are going to react quickly enough when a parent rings and says, "My child has gone missing"?
Mr Brokenshire: There are a number of things that we are doing around this. One of the commitments in the strategy that was launched yesterday was in relation to loved ones, that they should be signposted and directed to support, which I think is an important step, and we are now taking that forward with ACPO in terms of implementation. One other element that is contained in there was the urgent work that CEOP are undertaking around child rescue alerts and the missing kids website. I think they are facilities that are there that for whatever reason have not been harnessed effectively to date, they have not really been used that much, and I want to understand properly how we can harness them, because if you have a young person who disappears then sometimes getting that message out quite quickly is important.
But the other important factor that has become quite clear over the course of the last few months is young runaways who run away regularly, that you don’t know where they have gone, that that may be a pointer to child exploitation, either that they are running away from exploitation or, sadly, that they may be running towards exploitation. Therefore, the missing strategy does complement and fit alongside the separate strategy on child sexual exploitation, recognising that missing can be a very important element in identifying that exploitation may be taking place, and also why ACPO are piloting two schemes in two parts of the country at the moment to better respond to reports of missing, to better risk-assess vulnerability. I think there are a number of important practical factors as well as the strategy that fits in from that.
Chair: We will look at this again. Before Mr Winnick runs away to save his police station, he has a very quick supplementary on that.
Q437 Mr Winnick: Minister, are you satisfied that the police are sufficiently strengthened in being able to deal with what is described as honour killings, the very opposite of the report that has recently come out, of people-particularly females, not exclusively-being brutalised and indeed, as we know only too well, murdered as a result of refusing to agree to what is required of them in terms of marriage?
Chair: This is a big subject, but a very brief answer and we will pursue it later.
Mr Brokenshire: Hate crime is something that we do take extraordinarily seriously and I have certainly been appalled by some of the shocking cases that we have seen over a number of years. It is something that my colleague, Lynne Featherstone, is taking forward with her responsibilities in relation to hate crime and violence against women and girls, but please be assured-
Mr Winnick: So-called honour crimes.
Mr Brokenshire: Yes. I appreciate the important distinction in relation to honour crime, that certain communities are more affected, and that shining a light on some of this is a challenge in its own right. That is something that we are cognisant of and that the Home Office is taking forward.
Chair: We will have Lynne Featherstone before us. Minister, thank you very much.
Mr Brokenshire: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
Chair: We look forward to seeing you next week in Leicester.
Mr Brokenshire: I look forward to it.