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Ten years on from 7/7 – tackling radicalisation in schools and communities

Coinciding with the 10-year anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, Waltham Forest today hosted a major event highlighting the work being carried out up and down the country to combat radicalisation in schools and communities.

In partnership with the Home Office, MOPAC and London Councils, Waltham Forest Council organised a day-long series of discussions and workshops with experts in the field to explore what is being done to tackle the problem, with a particular focus on education.

Speakers included Rosemary Pratt, Director of Due Diligence and Counter Extremism Group at the Department for Education, and London's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh.

Attendees at the ‘Cohesive Communities’ event came from schools and educational institutions across the country as well as from organisations involved with the Government’s Prevent agenda.

Throughout the day, examples of work in schools to educate young people about radicalisation were covered, including steps being taken to manage risk and instances where authorities have intervened to support at-risk individuals.

Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE JP, Waltham Forest’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, said: “Sadly, 10 years on from the devastating 7/7 London bombings, radicalisation and terrorism remain significant threats not just to the UK, but internationally – as last month’s horrific attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait painfully reminded us.

“Having been involved with the Prevent agenda since 2011, we’re keen to share the lessons we’ve learned through our efforts to tackle the issue within our area – and hope that today’s event gave everyone attending the opportunity to put forward their own ideas and approaches to ensure we’re having the right conversations with our respective communities.”

Cllr Mark Rusling, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Instead of hiding away from difficult discussions, in Waltham Forest we’ve been taking the conversations into our classrooms – making sure the borough’s young people are safeguarded from harmful views by helping them better understand subjects like identity and citizenship and making them fully aware of radicalisation and its associated dangers.

“Given that changes to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act place further duties on schools to do more to prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism, it’s absolutely crucial that the Government ensures they are given sufficient resources and support to carry them out because this will be relatively new territory for many of them.”

Waltham Forest is an acknowledged leader in counter radicalisation in schools, and its digital resilience programme is routinely promoted as best practice, as well as being supported by the Home Office and MOPAC.

At least one element of the programme has been delivered in all 22 of our secondary schools, addressing themes such as critical thinking, and the Council is actively engaging with governors and teachers to help those most vulnerable so that resilience can be built through trust.

The support for the Council’s approach is reflected in the continued support of the Home Office, the interest in what Waltham Forest is doing by other local authorities and the appointment of Chief Executive, Martin Esom, as the Chair of London Prevent Board.

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