MORE MEN, women and children will flee the UK to join Islamic State if more is not done to win the “hearts and minds” of those at risk of radicalisation, a group of MPs has warned.
Communication between police, schools and parents was in need of “vast improvement”, the Home Affairs Select Committee said in a report on so-called foreign fighters.
An advice service targeted at parents who wished to seek advice or expressed concerns about radicalisation should be set up, the MPs said.
It comes after three British schoolgirls - Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana - fled to Syria to join Islamic State and after three teenage boys from Brent were stopped in Turkey as they attempted but failed to do the same.
The Met Police recently apologised for failing to communicate more directly with the missing girls’ families, but insisted there was nothing more the force could have done to stop them leaving.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “Radical groups from abroad are preying on young British citizens through social media to encourage them to travel abroad to join them.
“The number of cases being brought to public attention should ring alarm bells. Schools and the police must inform parents immediately, and work with them even if there is the smallest hint of radicalisation, or a close association with someone who is thought to have been radicalised.
“This must be a relentless battle for hearts and minds, and without a strong counter-narrative we are in danger of failing to prevent even more departures. We are at the edge of a cliff.”
The committee said social media firms should take action when presented with evidence that users are promoting violent extremism, such as suspending accounts. However, the report concedes that “policing social media sites is impossible” and young people must be given the skills to resist radicalisation online.
The MPs want the Home Office to work with airlines serving “destinations of concern” such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Nigeria to develop stricter controls for passengers travelling there.