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More people joining extreme right wing groups in Cornwall

More people joining extreme right wing groups in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 12:06pm 10th September 2018. (Updated at 3:48pm 10th September 2018)

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

The number of people joining extreme right wing groups and sharing their views is on the rise in Cornwall.

Steve Rowell, Cornwall Council’s preventing extremism/terrorism lead, said that there were known to be 8,000 people in right wing groups in the South West.

At a briefing for Cornwall councillors Mr Rowell said: “We are seeing a rise in extreme right wing activists nationally and right here in Cornwall.”

Mr Rowell said right wing groups were using social media to create a narrative for their views and exploiting anxieties around globalisation, conflict and migration.

Explaining that there were a number of right wing groups which have members in the South West, Mr Rowell said “a large proportion of those will be in Cornwall as well”.

He added: “Nearly all of them share racist views. If someone goes on social media and makes a comment that incites hatred and or racial violence that is a criminal offence.”

Mr Rowell said the council had policies to prevent and tackle extremism and terrorism and these were not only to tackle right wing activists but also environmental campaigners, animal rights activists and political activists.

Councillors heard that Cornwall’s policies tied in with national policies about preventing terrorism and extremism.

Mr Rowell explained that the current threat level in the UK was “severe” having been moved up from “substantial” in 2014. He explained that “severe” meant “an attack is highly likely”.

The expert said: “That is because there were a number of individuals moving from the UK to Syria to fight for Al Qaeda or ISIS. We then saw them move back to the UK.”

Mr Rowell added: “In my personal opinion we won’t go back to substantial for many years to come.”

The briefing heard that in the past 12 months there have been 12 terror plots foiled in the UK and he said there were currently more than 500 live investigations running in the UK involving 3,000 individuals.

Councillors were told about the “Channel” prevent programme which aims to protect people from being drawn into violent extremism and terrorism.

Mr Rowell said that in Cornwall Channel has been successful with 100% engagament and a 100% success rate.

He added: “If you go to other places in the UK they are nowhere near that.”

Channel helps those who are vulnerable to being drawn into extremism and terrorism and works with them until their vulnerabilities have been reduced.

Mr Rowell explained that in Cornwall 25,500 education staff and 8,000 council staff have been given Home Office accredited training in prevention and said that all schools and colleges in Cornwall have software and filtering to protect children from online radicalisation and exploitation.

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