Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, responds to the Government’s update of its counter-terrorism strategy CONTEST.
Responding to the Government’s update of its counter-terrorism strategy CONTEST, Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Councils are committed to safeguarding communities by tackling extremism and already look for tell-tale signs of people at risk of radicalisation and work with the police and other agencies to protect people.
“Local authorities are engaging with all areas of society and working with community groups to help protect their towns and cities and reduce the risk of young people being radicalised. This includes delivering wide-ranging education and training programmes to address the issue, training front-line staff to spot signs of radicalisation and undertaking outreach work to engage young people and parents.
“This is not only hugely important but also extremely complex. That is why we need to see further detail on the CONTEST initiative announced today and will be looking to work closely with the Government to ensure any new measures are effective.
“Information sharing could be a positive step but what is crucial is that councils are not treated as a replacement for the expertise and resources of the security services and police. Local authorities are not MI5 and it’s essential that the police and security services lead on responding to and acting on any threats.
“We will continue to engage with government to ensure residents are kept safe and that local authorities can play their role in supporting and protecting communities. While we can all be on the lookout, preventing and protecting us from terrorism is a responsibility that should remain with the police and security services.
“With councils also facing significant and ongoing funding pressures, local authorities’ work to tackle radicalisation also needs to be properly funded over the long term.”