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Commission publishes new extremism statistics and academic papers

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Sara Khan discusses Far Right extremism in Newcastle.
Sara Khan discusses Far Right extremism in Newcastle.

Today we've published statistics from our call for evidence on extremism. The online survey received almost 3,000 responses between November 2018 and January 2019.

We've also released five peer-reviewed academic papers on the threat from the Far Right and the Far Left. In April we gave academics the opportunity to bid to write short papers on key extremism issues.

The publications mark the start of a summer of publishing evidence as we build up to our landmark report making recommendations on extremism.

Speaking ahead of speaking at an event with the Home Secretary, Sara thanked everyone who had contributed to our work.

The call for evidence statistics and the academic papers are available on the Commission’s website.

Summary of Call for Evidence

What do people understand by ‘extremism’?

Three quarters (75%) of the public respondents find the Government’s current definition of extremism “very unhelpful” or “unhelpful”. Yet just over half (55%) of practitioners found it either “very helpful” or “helpful”.

The scale of extremism

Just over half (52%) of all respondents had witnessed extremism in some way. Of these, two fifths (39%) reported seeing it in their local area. Of those who had witnessed extremism, just under half (45%) reported seeing it online.

Extremists’ tactics and objectives

The public and practitioners associated the Far Right with propaganda (e.g. on social or traditional media), events (e.g. marches) and criminal offending (e.g. hate crime) more than with any other activities.

The public associated Muslim / Islamist extremism with criminal offending and links to terrorism, while practitioners associated it with propaganda, criminal offending and incidents in regulated spaces.

Harms caused by extremism

The top five that are most at risk:
1. Everyone
2. Religious minority communities
3. Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities
4. People countering extremism
5. Women

Eighty-three percent of practitioner respondents were concerned that extremism is causing harm to our wider society and democracy.

How to respond to extremism

The public and practitioners agreed that “a lot more” should be done online to counter extremism (56% and 73% respectively). When asked who has a role to play, practitioner respondents’ top choice was social media and tech companies and the public respondents chose faith groups and leaders.

The five academic papers

Overview of the far right

Dr Benjamin Lee, Senior Research Associate, Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST)

Dr Lee says: “This paper provides readers with an overview of the far-right in the UK. It covers the various ideological strains that inhabit the far-right space (broadly interpreted) as well as some of their different aims and objectives. The paper finishes by setting out some of the available indicators of the scale of far-right support in the UK.”

Modernising and Mainstreaming: The Contemporary British Far Right

Dr Joe Mulhall, Senior Researcher, at HOPE not hate, Panel Tutor, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

Dr Mulhall says: “By analysing the rhetoric espoused at a series of major far-right events across 2018 and comparing it to societal polling it becomes evident that large parts of the contemporary far-right’s platform - namely anti-Muslim politics, co-option of the free speech debate and an anti-elite populism - has widespread public support.”

National Action: Links between the far right, extremism and terrorism

Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor in Hate Studies, The Centre for Hate Studies, Department of Criminology, University of Leicester

Dr Allen says: “In 2016, National Action made history for being the first far-right group to be proscribed in the UK. Investigating the group’s history, ideology and activities, this article considers how its commitment to a ‘pure’ form of nationalism helped it to transition from non-violent to violent extremism.”

The values of the Far Left and their acceptance among the general British public and the self-identifying ‘very leftwing’

Dr Daniel Allington, Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence, King’s College London, Siobhan McAndrew, Lecturer in Sociology with Quantitative Methods at the University of Bristol & Dr David Hirsh, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Allington says: “The sectarian Far Left consists of a number of small, close-knit groups, each of which aspires to lead the workers into revolution. Survey data suggest that people who agree with the ideas promoted by the sectarian far left are more likely to sympathise with violent extremism.”

Talking Our Way Out of Conflict: Critical reflections on ‘mediated dialogue’ as a tool for secondary level CVE

Dr Ajmal Hussain, Research Fellow in Sociology, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Professor Hilary Pilkington, Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Jon Nicholas, Kelly Simcock and Harriet Vickers of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, along with Lee Rogerson of Street Talk.

Professor Pilkington says: “This paper reflects on a researcher-practitioner collaboration in conducting a mediated dialogue between young people from an ‘Islamist’ milieu and from an ‘extreme right’ milieu. It situates the intervention in the literature on the effectiveness of intergroup contact in reducing prejudice and on social cohesion and suggests how it might be developed for use in community led counter extremism practice.”

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