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Countering extremism

SIR – During my time as the counter-extremism commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley – now Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis – and I demonstrated that there were gaps in legislation that allowed extremists, whose activity fell just below the terrorism threshold, to operate with impunity. 

“Hateful extremists”, as I termed them, shared the same ideology as terrorists, were guilty of radicalising people and propagating their narratives, and were – with intent – creating a climate conducive to extremism, terrorism and other harms, including undermining democracy.

We put forward a number of recommendations to ministers, including commissioning a legal and operational framework to counter this extremist threat. Our report, “Operating with Impunity”, was published in February 2021. Three years later, I’m still waiting for a response.

Suella Braverman (“Take on hate-filled mobs, before it’s too late”, Comment, February 7) suggests new laws are needed to address extremism, as well as “a new category” for extremist groups not involved in terrorism but whose activities were clearly harming our country.

These were precisely the points we raised, including recommending extremism proscription orders that could ban dangerous but lawful Islamist and neo-Nazi groups.

When Ms Braverman was home secretary, she had the power to take action – but chose not to. It is my belief that had she done so, we would have not fallen behind the curve in countering the extremist threat to our country.

Dame Sara Khan
Counter-extremism commissioner, 2018-21


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