Politicians “are too willing to turn a blind eye” to extremism and extremist ideology because “they consider the challenge too great,” said the former community secretary.
Robert Jenrick, who lost his job during the latest government reshuffle, told the BBC that the government’s Prevent strategy has “lost its way.”
Prevent aims to intervene where people may be at risk of radicalization.
Jenrick said the strategy needed to be “less confusing”.
The program, which costs 40 million pounds a year, was set up during the last Labor government.
In 2019, the government initiated a review of the Prevent strategy and Jenrick said the report would arrive on the “interior minister’s desk” very soon.
He noted that past reports on the subject in 2016 and 2019 had been “largely not implemented” and that now would be the time for “a vigorous renewal of our policy to truly address extremism.”
Interior Minister Priti Patel recently said the government wants to ensure that the Prevent program is “fit for purpose”.
As part of the strategy, individuals such as teachers, city employees, and NHS employees can report an individual’s risk of exposure to extremism or suspicious radical views or behavior to local police prevention officers.
A committee then decides whether or not to refer that person to the Prevent program and, in severe cases, to the Channel’s mentoring program.
Those who are referred are not required to attend and their names are not routinely passed to MI5.
Speaking to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Jenrick said the number of people involved in evaluating people should be reduced, focusing on those who are best placed to make tough judgments “such as members of the police and security services. “.
He also said the program needed to focus on those “most likely to cause harm to members of the public.”
“We have a real problem in this country with far-right extremists, and that needs to be addressed, but the vast majority of the people who are on the MI5 checklist, for example, are from the Islamist extremist side of the spectrum and so I think we need to focus on this again and find the right balance. “
The Home Office runs the Prevent program, but the sections are run by the communities department that Mr. Jenrick ran until last month.
The Newark MP said the UK needs to address tough issues of integration within the country among the many different communities.
He said that “the vast majority of our fellow citizens” want to live in a “pluralistic society”, but a minority of people have “a different vision”.
“We cannot allow our country to take the wrong path where we have a divided society and we allow grievances to escalate.”
He added that the UK “had to be less passive in dealing with extremism and have a more muscular form of liberalism”.
“I think that for some reason, perhaps due to events, because ministers come and go, there hasn’t been the consistency and attention that was needed – and I think that’s what’s needed now, as we renew our politics”.
- Robert Jenrick
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