Counter Extremism Bill announced in Queen's speech

The Queen's Speech, delivered at the state opening of parliament on 18 May, promises a new attempt by the government to introduce legislation to tackle "extremism". A similar statement was included in the Queen's Speech in 2015, but draft legislation never appeared, presumably because of the difficulty of devising a workable legal definition of "extremism".

This year's Queen's speech says:

"Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration."

The Government's intentions are set out more fully in background briefing notes. The relevant section is as follows:

Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill

"Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration."

The purpose of the Bill is to:

  • Provide stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public.


The main benefits of these clauses would be:

  • To enable the Government and law enforcement agencies to protect the public against the most dangerous extremists.
  • To ensure the Government and law enforcement agencies have a full range of powers to deal with extremism.
  • This will help deliver on the manifesto pledge to tackle all forms of extremism, so our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended (p.61).

The main elements of the clauses are:

  • The introduction of a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.
  • Safeguarding children from extremist adults, by taking powers to intervene in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart and through stronger powers for the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  • We will also close loopholes so that Ofcom can continue to protect consumers who watch internet-streamed television content from outside the EU on Freeview.
  • We will consult on powers to enable government to intervene where councils fail to tackle extremism.
  • The Government will consider the need for further legislative measures following Louise Casey’s review into integration in those communities most separated from the mainstream.

Devolution:

The legislation would apply in England and Wales. The position in Scotland is yet to be finalised.

Key Facts:

  • In the last year, we have stepped up our efforts to safeguard those at risk of radicalisation. We have considerably increased our programme of Prevent activity through our network of Prevent professionals, working with over 2,790 different institutions, and engaging nearly 50,000 individuals over the course of 2015.
  • 130 community based projects aimed at reducing vulnerabilities to extremist narratives were delivered in 2015, reaching over 25,000 participants. Over half of these projects were delivered in schools, aimed at increasing young people’s resilience to terrorist and extremist ideologies.
  • The Prime Minister said in July 2015 ‘We need to put out of action the key extremist influencers... we are going to introduce new narrowly targeted powers to enable us to deal with these facilitators and cult leaders and stop them peddling their hatred.’

"Louise Casey's review", mentioned in the explanatory notes above, refers to a review chaired by Louise Casey set up by David Cameron in July 2015.

Perhaps the most signicant aspect of the proposals, for people in Scotland, is the statement that: "The position in Scotland is yet to be finalised".

Action Alert

Action Alert - Stop the Counter Extremism and Safeguarding Bill