Patrick Christys: There is a real pandemic - we have more terrorists living amongst us than ever before.

Patrick Christys
Patrick Christys

There is a huge elephant charging around the House of Commons, and that elephant has the words radical Islam painted on the side of it.

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You're with The Afternoon Agenda, and today, we need to talk about extremism.

There is a real pandemic out there, we have more terrorists living amongst us than ever before. Today’s papers are full of stories about an alleged case of radical extremism in this country. The killing of the MP Sir David Amess is being treated by police as a terrorist incident.

On the issue of radicalisation as a whole, I fear that people have been locked in their bedrooms for a year and a half, watching goodness knows what online, becoming more and more disillusioned with the world.

I for one am sick and tired of politicians and vast swathes of the media turning the focus to our political discourse, because of the way we’re speaking to each other. I think that’s nonsense, it’s a cop out, it ignores the real issue.

There is a huge elephant charging around the House of Commons, and that elephant has the words radical Islam painted on the side of it.

Radical Islam and the violence inflicted in its name not just in this country, but around the world IS an issue. We appear to have politicians that are too slow or unwilling to call it out. And we have a line of defence that even the French would regard as being pretty flimsy. The Prevent Scheme.

It’s worth noting that the Prevent scheme is voluntary and it’s not a criminal sanction. So once you’re referred, you essentially have to volunteer to be deradicalised. In some cases - about 11% of referrals - the person is placed on the government's Channel scheme for support such as mentoring. The most common referrals to Channel were for far-right radicalisation (43%), followed by Islamist radicalisation (30%), in the year to March 2020.

In fact, the Head of Mi5 warned recently that 10 of 29 attack plots disrupted in the last fours years were linked to the far right. But if you speak to security experts, as I do almost daily, whilst far-right radicalisation is obviously a real and present danger, many will tell you that at present Islamist terror poses the biggest threat to life.

I don’t want to us to have to overhaul the way we live to compensate for extremists. People deserve to be able to walk the streets free from fear of attack. Some elements of radicalisation are almost impossible to stop. It’s impossible to guard against an isolated individual who decides to go on the rampage, for whatever cause.

But there are areas where we’re obviously not helping ourselves. Prisons are a breeding ground for radicalisation, you can go in a petty criminal and come out a mujahadeen, people actually convicted of terror offences are often released after serving half their sentence, we haven’t got the resources to monitor them all and, in the case of the Streatham terror attack in February last year, even under near 24hr surveillance they can still go on a stabbing spree.

As long as we keep hiding behind ‘mental health’ problems, and ‘moderating our discourse’ instead of calling out incidents like the Streatham attack for what they are – radical islamist terrorism, then we won’t solve the problem. It’s like rearranging the decking on the Titanic.

Today we really need to talk about extremism.