POLITICAL extremism is posing more of a threat in Thurrock than any other group, councillors have heard.
Michelle Cunningham, Community Safety Partnership Manager attended Thurrock Council’s hidden and extreme harms prevention committee to give an update on the Prevent initiative, which aims to spot and deal with radicalisation with communities.
She told councillors right-wing racist groups posed more of a threat to the borough than faith groups.
She said: “Across Thurrock the greatest threat to us is from right-wing extremism. As an example Patriotic Alternative have done some leaflet drops. That’s racist. They are not at the moment deemed to be a proscribed group so they are not deemed a terrorist organisation but they are deemed to be racist in the language and the information they pass out, whereas National Action are a proscribed group.”
Chairman Gary Collins said left-wing groups also posed a threat also. He said: “There is too much left-wing extremism which I think is quite pervasive in every institution in the country. It inhibits freedom of speech and interprets free thought, if it doesn’t agree with that particular left-wing dynamic, then it’s a hate speech automatically.
“That’s the sort of thing that has helped cripple race relations in this country. People can’t speak their minds and get off their chest what they’ve thought about and not be accused of being hateful. Let somebody take on their thoughts and then discuss it. That’s how you break down barriers and then you build the bridges. It can be a painful process because the truth can be painful at times but you’ve got to have dialogue because if you don’t then there is no communication and if there is no communication there is no solution.”
The borough is exceeding its targets of all areas of Prevent except with communication but Ms Cunningham said more will be done to engage with councillors, the youth, faith and community leaders.
Qaisar Abbas, Conservative councillor for West Thurrock and Stifford said: “think we need to engage with the wider communities, particularly these faith leaders.
“If we are not reaching out to them it will be very difficult to achieve what we have mentioned in relation to Prevent. There is a massive gap. People have a lot of issues with Prevent particularly in the Muslim community. What can we do in terms of reaching out to these communities, taking them on board.”