What is extremism?
The Counter-Extremism Strategy, which was developed by the Home Office and published in October 2015, defines extremism as: “the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.” It considers these values to be the glue that binds our diverse multi-faith, multi-racial society together.
About the Counter-Extremism Strategy
The Counter Extremism Strategy begins with the premise that the Government has a responsibility to protect the public from all the harms – in addition to terrorism – that extremists pose to our society. While terrorism and radicalisation are often emphasised as the outcome of this vocal and active opposition of our values, the Strategy highlights that extremists can create the conditions where other broad types of harms can emerge. They provide an ideological justification, and rationale, for certain behaviours, specifically:
- Purposeful segregation of communities – a rejection of integration based on differences in race, religion or denomination.
- Discrimination against women and girls – creating or supporting an environment in which illegal cultural practices are more likely to go unchallenged, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence (HBV).
- Hatred of others based on race, religion, denomination, or sexual orientation – which can lead to hate crime, including violence.
- Rejection of the core concept and institutions of democracy and promoting alternative systems of law.
The Strategy is designed to be complementary to, but distinct from, Prevent. The Prevent Strategy is specifically aimed at tackling terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism, but as noted above, the Government has a responsibility to protect the public from all the harms – in addition to terrorism – which extremists pose to our society. While some extremists act violently or seek to justify violence to achieve their aims, others draw upon and promote ideologies to justify and normalise behaviours that run contrary to our values. The Counter-Extremism Strategy thus goes beyond challenging terrorism to challenge those who target the vulnerable – including the young – by seeking to: sow division between communities on the basis of race, faith or denomination; justify discrimination towards women and girls; persuade others that minorities are inferior; or argue against the primacy of democracy and the rule of law in our society.
In order to address these issues, the Strategy elaborates on four key pillars of engagement:
- Countering extremist ideology: challenging the extremists’ narrative through a targeted programme of national and local communications
- Building a partnership with all those opposed to extremism: supporting community based groups committed to challenging extremist influences within their communities – amplifying positive or alternative messages.
- Disrupting extremists: making full use of existing powers and ensuring measures available are the right ones, balancing necessity and proportionality.
- Building cohesive communities: addressing the issues which may give rise to disaffection in specific communities leaving them susceptible to extremist narratives.
Building partnerships and cohesive communities
Local authorities are considered key partners in the implementation of the Counter-Extremism Strategy. The Council has employed a Community Coordinator since 2017 to support this work. The Community Coordinator is responsible for building an understanding of the drivers, prevalence and wider harms of extremism in Portsmouth; identifying local groups that are working to improve community cohesion and counter extremism; building networks between them; and supporting them to consolidate and expand their reach, including signposting them to relevant opportunities and helping them to submit applications.
For further information contact: Freida.M’Cormack@portsmouthcc.gov.uk
Tel: 023 9283 4163
Counter-Extremism Strategy (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-extremism-strategy)
Hate crime action plan (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hate-crime-action-plan-2016)
Building A Stronger Britain Together – Funding and support for groups involved in counter-extremism projects in their communities (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/building-a-stronger-britain-together)
Commission for Countering Extremism (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-for-countering-extremism)