Former extremism tsar says she is ‘baffled’ the Home Office has failed to act on her proposals to tackle radicalisation

  • Dame Sara Khan said her proposals were left ‘sitting on a shelf gathering dust’

The former extremism tsar has said she is ‘baffled’ by the Home Office‘s failure to act on her proposals to tackle radicalisation.

Dame Sara Khan, who led the Commission for Countering Extremism, said her official proposals had been left ‘sitting on a shelf gathering dust’.

She warned that amid ‘unprecedented’ levels of radicalisation, Britain’s counter-extremism infrastructure suffers from ‘serious gaps’.

Dame Sara, who was appointed to the counter-extremism role by then prime minister Theresa May in 2018, told MPs last week: ‘I have not had a response from the Government to any of my reports when I was at the Commission for Countering Extremism, which in all honesty I have to say I find baffling.

‘As far as I am aware, my reports are all sitting on a shelf gathering dust in the Home Office.

Dame Sara Khan¬†warned that amid ‘unprecedented’ levels of radicalisation, Britain’s counter-extremism infrastructure suffers from ‘serious gaps’

‘To put this in context, one of the things that I wrote in the report was that in Britain we generally have a robust counter-terrorism infrastructure, which many across the world look at with envy.

‘What I stated in my report was that having reviewed the Government’s then 2015 counter-extremism strategy…we do not unfortunately have a robust, strong counter-extremism infrastructure.

‘Instead, it is poor, it is weakly coordinated and there are serious gaps.’¬†She added that intelligence analysts had warned the ‘scale of radicalisation in this country is going to be unprecedented’.

‘It is precisely at this time that we need a robust counter-extremism infrastructure and I am afraid we have the very opposite,’ Dame Sara said, in remarks first reported by the Sunday Telegraph.

It came as Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, called for tougher action on extremism.

‘As we have seen in the last few months, anti-Semitism has been de facto decriminalised,’ he wrote in the Telegraph.

‘As the events in the Middle East trigger a new wave of radicalisation, it is high time we refreshed our wider counter-extremism legislation to plug the loopholes extremists on our streets have come to exploit.’ He suggested that universities which failed to tackle anti-Semitism on campus should face having funding withdrawn.

Dame Sara’s main report, published nearly two years ago, said the law needed a major shake-up to tackle ‘shocking and dangerous’ extremism which escapes prosecution.

Dame Sara, who was appointed to the counter-extremism role by then prime minister Theresa May in 2018, told MPs last week she'd not had a response from the Government to her reports

Dame Sara, who was appointed to the counter-extremism role by then prime minister Theresa May in 2018, told MPs last week she’d not had a response from the Government to her reports

It said ministers should introduce new criminal offences to silence Islamists, far Right groups and others with damaging ideologies including conspiracy theorists.

Due to a ‘gaping chasm’ in the law, extremists can operate ‘lawfully, freely and with impunity’ providing they stop short of directly encouraging violence or terrorism, the report found.

It called for a new law to outlaw ‘praising and glorifying’ terrorism.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The government’s highest priority is protecting the safety and security of this country, and no form of extremism is acceptable in the UK.

‘Alongside our world-class policy, security and intelligence agencies, and a robust counter-terrorism framework, we also work with a range of local and national partners to disrupt high harm groups that radicalise others, or create the conditions for radicalisation to occur.’