Yvette Cooper MP

Working hard for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford & Knottingley

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Urgent Question on the Government’s counter terrorism policy

STATEMENT

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Mr Speaker, an estimated 600 British citizens have now travelled to join the conflict in Syria – from extremists with a terrorist history to fifteen year old school girls.

The whole house will share a revulsion at the barbarism of ISIL, a determination to tackle extremism, and strong support for the vital, and unsung work of the security services and police to tackle the threat here and abroad.

The House has recently supported further legislation to tackle the terrorist threat. But there are a series of specific areas where we need answers about Government policies and decisions.

First the handling of a West London network of terror suspects.

In 2011 court papers describe a network including three individuals relocated on control orders, ten other named individuals and further unnamed individuals based in West London, involved in the “provision of funds and equipment” to terrorism and “the facilitation of individuals’ travel from the UK” to join terrorist-related activity.

The Home Secretary’s decision to abolish control orders and cancel relocations was implemented in 2012 so no one could then be relocated despite the continued police view that it was one of the best ways to disrupt terrorist networks.

One of those who had been relocated absconded in a London black cab.

Another associate absconded wearing a burka

And other men from the network have been reported in the media as subsequently leaving for Syria and becoming involved in brutal violence.

The Home Secretary has finally restored the relocation power within the last few weeks.

So can she tell us.

Does she believe that her decision to remove relocation powers made it easier for this West London network to operate, recruit and send people to Syria?

Will she ask the Independent Terrorism Reviewer or the Intelligence and Security Committee to now look at the details of this West London network, and whether Government policy made it easier for them to operate.

Mr Speaker,

We also need to know about Government policy to prevent young people and children travelling to Syria in the light of the distressing story of three schoolgirls who have travelled there from East London.

I have not had a reply to my letter last Wednesday.

Can she tell us:

Did the Government have an agreement in place with the airlines to raise alerts over unaccompanied minors travelling on known Syrian routes.

If not, why not, and will she put one in place now?

The girls flew out on Tuesday. They did not leave Istanbul bus station until late Wednesday. It is reported that the police contacted the London Embassy on Wednesday. But when were the Istanbul authorities alerted and when were checks made at the main airports, train and bus stations?

One pupil from Bethnal Green Academy is reported to have left for Syria before Christmas, and it is known that recruitment takes place through friendship groups and social media.

So what training and support was given to the teachers and parents of other children at Bethnal Green Academy to prevent further recruitment, grooming and radicalisation? And what community led Prevent programmes is the Home Office supporting in Bethnal Green?

ENDS

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