The Home Office has launched a programme of support for front line organisations working to challenge extremism in their communities. Organisations with a track record of promoting community cohesion and tackling extremism are being encouraged to bid for support as part of the first wave of the Building a Stronger Britain Together programme. This four-year initiative delivers a key strand of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy published last year, and aims to promote and strengthen positive mainstream voices across Britain.
Sarah Newton, the Government Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism, said: “We are Great Britain because we’re a proud, diverse society united by values such as democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all. Extremists threaten these values, promoting hatred and intolerance and causing harm to communities and individuals. This includes far right groups who encourage anti-Muslim hatred and anti-semitism. It also encompasses those who deny women the same rights as men to education, work or justice.”
Newton continued: “Across the country, organisations and individuals are standing up to extremism and the harm it causes. As we strive to build a country that works for everyone, we’re determined to support them and, by empowering mainstream voices, drown out those who seek to divide us.”
Groups can apply online for in-kind support up to a value of £75,000, or grant funding up to £50,000. In-kind support might include social media training, help in setting up a website or advice on media activity.
Grant funding will be given for clearly defined proposals such as a project to help 15 to 18 year-olds find full-time employment after leaving school in an area where far right groups are attempting to recruit vulnerable young adults into their midst.
There will be a call for bids for each new financial year to make sure the funding has impact across all four years, and to ensure that support is always given to those groups conducting the most relevant and innovative work.
£1 million funding boost to fight organised crime in the North East
A new crime-fighting facility is to be created for the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) with the help of £1 million in Government funding, bringing several law enforcement agencies together under one roof.
The new Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) premises will provide the police with a headquarters from which to base themselves as they tackle serious and organised crime. Specialist teams from the Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces, the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement partners will now work under one hub leading the region’s response to a range of threats.
The new facilities will significantly enhance the region’s existing capabilities as the agencies tackle crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, organised illegal immigration, firearms, high value fraud, cyber crime, child sexual exploitation and terrorism.
Security minister Ben Wallace said: “Serious and organised crime is corrosive and undermines the very fabric of our society. Families across the North East have been subjected to misery at the hands of criminals who exploit young women and children, trade in illegal drugs and rob the elderly of their life savings. This new ROCU will enable the police and partner agencies across the region to build on previous successes and provide a more efficient response to the threat posed by highly sophisticated crime groups that infiltrate our communities and operate by fear and intimidation. The expertise of trained officers within a single hub will also ensure our intelligence picture across the region develops at pace and significantly undermines the efforts of those who pose a threat to our national security.”
Greater intelligence sharing
The new shared ROCU headquarters will enable greater intelligence sharing, a stronger collaboration between the different law enforcement agencies and the ability to take on more complex investigations.
The £1 million investment will also provide the capability for further specialist work that includes surveillance operations, e-forensic investigations, asset confiscation enforcement, fraud and prison intelligence. In addition, the new space enables the ROCU to expand at any point in the future as additional resources are deemed necessary to tackle the threats being faced.
Steve Ashman, Northumbria’s Chief Constable, explained: “We’re proud that the North East is being highlighted for the work being done to tackle organised crime. The Home Office funding will be crucial in helping us to maintain the ROCU and provide police officers with a suitable base from which they may continue the excellent work they deliver. Tackling organised crime is a priority for the region. All three forces work together with other agencies to help prevent organised gangs and criminals from travelling through our region to commit crime.”
ROCU operational teams are highly trained in their fields of expertise. By using specialist equipment and techniques to pursue criminals, they’re crucial in the drive to detect, investigate, prosecute and disrupt organised crime groups.