By Rebecca Taylor For Mailonline
Channel counter-extremism programme in crisis after nearly HALF of those deemed to be vulnerable to ISIS grooming turned down help
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, pictured, said the government scheme needs to be made complusory.
Nearly half of people assessed to be susceptible to Islamic-State terrorism refused the offer of help from the Government’s flagship counter-extremism programme, according to reports.
The Channel programme offers support and mentoring to those deemed to be vulnerable to being drawn into extremism, but it is voluntary and those offered help can turn it down.
During the last financial year, out of the 245 people offered support through the Channel scheme where ‘Islamic State’ was flagged as the type of extremism, some 117 refused it, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
The figures emerged in a Freedom of Information Act request from the BBC’s World At One programme.
Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, where a number of schools were targeted by hard-line Muslims in the Trojan Horse scandal, called for the Channel programme to be made compulsory.
He told the World At One programme ‘the whole strategy needs to be looked at’ and warned that some mentors are ‘non-violent radicalisers’ who are ‘reinforcing the ideology’ rather than countering it.
Mr Mahmood said: ‘Also what needs to be looked at is the fact that the number of Channel providers is very stagnant, there is hardly any change in providers that the local police authorities use.
‘So you have got a group of people who rarely change – there is no competition, there is no understanding of doing something differently in terms of providing Channel, and that is why it has not been as successful as it should be.’
He added: ‘I think it should become mandatory… but unless you have the right providers, unless you have people who are actually not going to reinforce that ideology, people who are actually trying to move people away from that ideology and the ethos of what they are being taught – that is the only way you will move forward and try to de-radicalise some of these people.
‘And we are not doing that at the moment in Channel.’
He also called for more resources to be ploughed into the programme.
The Channel programme is intended to combat extremism by preventing people becoming further radicalised and turning to violence. Above, radical cleric Anjem Choudary, file photo.
Channel aims to combat extremism early on to prevent people from becoming further radicalised and turning to violence.
Many people referred to the programme are children.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We have a wide range of powers at our disposal to prevent terrorist-related activity and our police and security and intelligence agencies work tirelessly, often unseen, to protect us.
‘Channel is a voluntary, confidential process to help protect vulnerable people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism.
‘Since 2012, over 1,000 people have been successfully provided with support. This means people most at risk can be diverted away from potential criminal activity or extreme danger.
‘This is similar to the way in which individuals at risk from involvement in crime, drugs and other social issues are supported.
‘If an individual chooses not to take part in the programme, engagement continues and where appropriate support will be offered through alternative measures and other mainstream services. Any risk that an individual poses is carefully managed by the police.’
Now Prime Minister, Theresa May, pictured right with former Prime Minister David Cameron, was the Home Secretary when the Channel programme was introduced. The Home Office said that 1,000 people had used the scheme since 2012.
A spokeswoman for the NPCC said: ‘Channel is just one of a range of intervention options open to police and partners.
‘Where a person does refuse to participate in Channel – and of course, as a voluntary programme, this is their right – there will be continuing engagement with the individual concerned to seek alternative support measures.
‘It should also be remembered that if anyone who has accepted or refused help goes on to become a national security threat, or commits an offence, they would be subject to a criminal investigation.’