IT is perverse that inquiries into the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, and the lessons that need to be learned, should pinpoint misgivings about the Government’s Prevent programme.
This is the policy, launched by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, in 2011, which is supposed to reduce the likelihood of susceptible and vulnerable people being radicalised by extremists.
Yet, while a new report into the horrific attack last year points to “high levels of distrust” between Muslims and official agencies like the police, Prevent’s principles are fundamental.
As Mrs May wrote in the strategy’s foreword, the objective is to stop people “being drawn into terrorism” and that the Government, and others, will “work with education and healthcare providers, faith groups, charities and the wider criminal justice system” to confront radicalisation.
This is as relevant today as it was seven years ago – the threat from jihadists like Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi is a constant one and local communities are, in many respects, the eyes and ears of the police and security services whose resources can only go so far.
In this regard, it would be remiss of the Government not to review the latest report and, where appropriate, refine the Prevent programme. After all, it depends on the confidence, and support, of community leaders for its objectives to be met. And, in many respects, Sajid Javid, the first Muslim to hold the post of Home Secretary, is uniquely placed to provide the reassurance that some people still require – and to remind the country that the fight against terrorism is a struggle shared by people of all faiths and backgrounds.