“Political correctness ‘hampering battle against extremism,'” by Matthew Moore for the Telegraph, November 13:
Attempts to turn young people away from Islamic extremism are being hampered by politically-correct language, according to a new report.
Ministers last year directed councils to use the terms “anti-Islamic activity” and “community resilience” instead of terrorism and extremism, as part of a drive to win over the Muslim community.
But the rebranding has spread confusion and is preventing local authorities and public bodies from talking openly about the radicalisation of young people.
A report for the Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government found that public services were not communicating policies “for fear that using more direct language may exacerbate community tensions.”
It quoted an unnamed council director as saying: “Switching language from ‘extremism’ to ‘community resilience’ causes confusion.
“The key thing is about who the words come from – if they come from a respected religious or community member they will have more impact than if it comes from a government minister.”
A council chief executive interviewed in the report said: “People are worried about saying the wrong thing and being labelled as racist.”
The Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report urged the Government to consult local leaders before issuing further directions about how anti-extremism policies should to be communicated.
The report also found that councils and police given more than Â£6 million to stop young people turning to violent extremism “lacked intelligence” about where to focus resources.
Some 70 councils in England will receive a further Â£45 million by 2011 as part of the “Prevent” agenda.
The programme is aimed at encouraging Muslims to identify themselves as part of British society, reject extremist ideology and activities, and encourage others to do the same.
The report, Preventing Violent Extremism: Learning And Development, found some police and local authority partnerships “lacked knowledge” about how Prevent schemes should work, and had no means of measuring success or failure.
The Department of Communities said new instructions have been issued to local authorities on improving terror prevention.