The Home Office begins the search this week for someone to lead the Commission for Countering Extremism, a statutory body that will identify extremists, defend British values and advise government.
Home secretary Amber Rudd announced yesterday that she was looking to recruit a lead commissioner for countering extremism, to head up the body first promised in the 2017 Conservative party election manifesto and confirmed in the Queen’s speech in June.
The Commission will offer recommendations for new policies and laws, support communities and the public sector to confront extremism, train schools to spot warning signs and – because of the correlation between extremism and poor treatment of women and girls – have specific responsibilities on women’s rights.
The new lead commissioner will advise Rudd on the Commission’s future role and priorities.
Rudd said she was looking forward to working with the successful candidate, and echoed prime minister Theresa May’s statement following the London Bridge attack in June that “enough is enough”.
She added: “The new Commission for Countering Extremism will have a key role to play in this fight. It will identify and challenge tolerance of extremism, tackle extremist ideology and promote British values, learning the lessons from the struggle against racism in the twentieth century.”
The government has come under fire for being slow to implement counter-extremism measures first announced by May when she was home secretary in 2015. One of the problems is the lack of a legally robust definition of extremism.
In August, Rudd was forced to defend Prevent, a de-radicalisation programme that has been criticised by the government’s own reviewer of terror legislation, David Anderson QC, who said many Muslims view Prevent as "if not a spying programme, then at least a programme that is targeted on them"
But the Home Office announcement shows that government is keen to outline progress, listing achievements in tackling extremism such as work by the Extremism Analysis Unit, the launch of an independent review into the application of Sharia law and new powers for Ofcom to act quickly against community radio stations breaching its content standards.