Building stronger cities together
UK City leaders meet in Birmingham to discuss extremism and build stronger cities
Council leaders, local policymakers, and civil society organisations from across the UK are today gathering for an event hosted by Birmingham City Council today to share knowledge and expertise on preventing and countering radicalisation and extremism leading to terrorism.
The UK’s Prevent strategy is one of the most advanced programmes for involving local authorities in the design and delivery of counter-radicalisation. The Prevent programme is fundamentally about safeguarding and supporting vulnerable individuals to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism in a similar way to processes designed to protect people from gangs, drugs, and child sexual abuse.
Local authorities have always played a central role in these safeguarding processes making them well placed to ensure Prevent is delivered in a way that will have maximum impact in supporting those vulnerable to radicalisation in their community.
In the first event of its kind, UK local authorities have come together to run a joint event between Birmingham, Leicester, Luton and Manchester Councils alongside the London Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to showcase how local government can lead the way in developing strategies and approaches to dealing with the complex challenge of creating strong, inclusive and resilient cities.
Keynote addresses from local government leaders will examine the responses cities across the UK have taken following the attacks in London and Manchester last year and will distill lessons learnt in ensuring a balance between the need to protect cities and citizens whilst combatting the fear which terrorists seek to promote.
Run in partnership with the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a global network of 120+ cities from across 45 countries, the event will highlight the emerging trends that risk damaging social cohesion, including in-depth discussion on how to respond to the rise in hate crime, current responses to managing online extremism and specific challenges posed by the threat of extreme right wing groups.
During a meeting of the council leaders, Birmingham City Council is set to announce plans to increase the sharing of UK best practice and to look at ways to improve access to SCN international best practice, insight and co-ordination through the establishment of a UK network to complement the existing SCN internationally.
In a major step towards strengthening links between UK cities, the council leaders will share their vision for building stronger cities that can respond to the ever-changing threats that seek to challenge the resilience of communities.
Underlining a new chapter for localism and demonstrating the unique role of city leaders to address a full range of interlinked issues, the leaders are aiming for UK-wide cooperation to combat extremism and terrorism.
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward, said: “Councils are very much on the front line when it comes to tackling the threat and risk posed by radicalisation and extremism. The services we provide to citizens on a day-to-day basis mean we are the organisations that are in regular contact with people, so we clearly have a key role to play.
“By creating a UK network that complements the work of the Stronger Cities Network globally, we will be able to extend the reach of the international network so our towns and cities are more resilient – and the best practice filters more widely. We must do everything we can to eradicate the threat we face and our work will contribute towards this aim.”
Sasha Havlicek, CEO of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, who oversee the Strong Cities Network, said:
“Through our Strong Cities Network, we aim to facilitate dialogue and foster stronger cooperation between local governments who are best placed to identify and respond to the complex challenges that extremism poses. We’re thrilled to be doing this on a UK-wide level, working alongside Birmingham, Luton, Leicester, Manchester and London, supporting a more unified approach to sharing best practice and information in order to tackle the growing issues of hate crime, extremism and polarisation. By empowering those who know their communities best and providing them globally resonant approaches led by cities around the world, we stand stronger together to prevent the drivers of polarisation at source as they morph and change.”
Security Minister Ben Wallace said:
“Local and national government take seriously our duty to protect those in our communities who are vulnerable to being groomed by radicalisers and terrorist recruiters. The Prevent policy sits alongside the other numerous safeguarding duties authorities have.
“It is excellent to see them coming together in this forum to share expertise and knowledge. We are all made safer when we work together, and we let local people apply their knowledge to defend their communities from harm”
Cllr Kirk Master, Assistant City Mayor (Neighbourhood Services) at Leicester City Council, added:
“Whilst in Leicester we operate a unique partnership model for delivering Prevent; we are keen to link into a UK Network of local authorities that are able to exchange best practice and share experience of supporting communities should they face issues relating to radicalisation and extremism”.
Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Borough Council, said:
“Luton is already working with the Local Government Association, the Home Office, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and the University of Coventry to develop and promote sector-led learning for countering extremism across English and Welsh local authorities by co-chairing the Special Interest Group on Countering Extremism with Leeds City Council.
“Extremism is increasingly and rapidly being globalised, and the Stronger Cities Network provides an important international dimension for this crucial work to mitigate the threats posed by those who would seek to divide our communities through sowing the seeds of hatred and extreme points of view. I believe it’s an important resource for us as local leaders to strengthen our commitments and capacity to work to resist these threats alongside our communities.”
Cllr Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, added:
“Manchester welcomes the opportunity to engage in a dynamic network of partners from across the country to learn, share good practice and inform national policy.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Strong Cities Network
Launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) is the first global network of over 120 cities committed to countering all forms of violent extremism and social polarisation and building strong, safe, and resilient local communities. The SCN is led by the global counter extremism organisation ISD, in coordination with an international steering committee of mayors, governors and local leaders.
For more information visit www.strongcitiesnetwork.org
Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD)
ISD is a global counter-extremism organisation dedicated to powering new generations against hate and extremism. For 10 years, ISD has responded to the rising challenge of extremist movements and the ideologies that underpin them, delivering cutting-edge programmes built from world-leading expertise in communications and technology, grassroots networks, knowledge and research, and policy advice.