Responses to violent extremism

Following high profile terrorist attacks there have been responses at local, national and international levels to prevent violent extremism with a particular focus on Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism.  Voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) have seen anti-terror legislation and regulation measures to prevent abuse from terrorist activity.  Government has introduced the Prevent programme as part of its CONTEST agenda to prevent violent extremism with a focus on Muslim communities.  And security and surveillance measures such as stop and search have been increased.

What are the implications?

The range of measures taken to tackle violent extremism are likely to have impacts both for BME VCOs directly and for the communities they support.

  • Possible increase of opportunities for the BME VCS to demonstrate its value in building community cohesion.
  • Possible funding opportunities for BME VCOs under new Government programmes such as Prevent.
  • Risk that the focus of programmes like Prevent on Muslim communities will marginalise Muslim communities and create resentment amongst other groups.
  • Risk that responses to violent extremism only focus on Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism and not other forms of violent extremism.
  • Risk of increased vulnerability for women where programmes focus on working with faith leaders if this excludes women’s voices.
  • Concerns have been raised that anti-terror legislation and regulation measures are disproportionate and may have a negative affect on VCOs.  For example, NCVO found that there had been a negative impact particularly for civil society organisations working with Muslim communities and / or in areas where the threat of terrorism is high.  They found initiatives were heavy handed and that there had been little engagement with the VCS in the development of anti-terror initiatives (see Security and Civil Society as below).
  • Anti-terrorist legislation may restrict legitimate charitable activity such as campaigning and the provision of humanitarian aid in certain parts of the world (see Security and Civil Society as below).
  • Anti-terrorist legislation may reduce the ability of Diaspora groups to remit money.  NCVO found that African Diaspora networks in particular are experiencing problems remitting money through the international banking system and the traditional hawala system (see Security and Civil Society as below).
  • Shift in Government policy from equality and diversity to cohesion and integration and associated move away from funding for community specific services.
  • Potential increase in inequality in the Criminal Justice System through stop and search: in 2006-07 Black people were seven times more likely and Asian people twice as likely than White people to be stopped and searched.[1]

Moving forward

In the wake of anti terror legislation and measures it will be important for BME VCOs to maintain trust with the public (see Trust in Charities).

  • Does your organisation have good systems of accountability and transparency in place?

Many BME VCOs make a vital contribution to community cohesion by promoting equality and support marginalised communities.

  • Are you able to demonstrate the impact of your work? (see Information on the VCS)
  • Do you effectively reach all members of your target user groups?

Want to know more?

Security and Civil Society, The impact of counter-terrorism measures on civil society organisations

Published by: National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? A report from VCS infrastructure organisation on the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism regulation and legislation on charities and voluntary organisations in the UK.

Stronger Together: A new approach to preventing violent extremism

Published by: New Local Government Network

Date: 2009

Format: PDF

What is it? A report from local government think tank recommending a broadened approach to the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda to include other forms of extremism such as from the far-right and warning Government that the current programme is alienating some members of the Muslim community.

Liberty wins landmark stop and search case in Court of Human Rights

Published by: Liberty

Date: 12 January 2010

Format: Website

What is it? A press release from human rights and civil liberty charity of the case of Gillan and Quinton V the United Kingdom where the Court of Human Rights ruled that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the broad police power for stop and search without suspicion) violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights.

Oxfam submission to Department for Communities and Local Government new inquiry and call for evidence issued in the session 2008-09

Published by: Oxfam

Date: 21 July 2009

Format: Website

What is it? Global anti-poverty charity response into the enquiry into Prevent calling forgreater awareness of the unintended negative impact of Prevent and a greater focus in underlying cohesion policy on tackling poverty and deprivation.



Last updated at 12:13 Fri 26/Mar/10.

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