Uncomfortable discussions about taboo subjects could be key to helping prevent people from being drawn towards right-wing extremism, with referrals on the rise in Lincolnshire according to police.
PC Riz Chothia has worked as the Prevent Officer for EMSOU (East Midlands Special Operations Unit) Lincolnshire for 11 years. Prevent is part of the government’s national counter terrorism strategy, which aims to try and safeguard and re-direct people before a criminal offence is committed.
Latest Home Office figures show a 36% rise nationally in referrals to Prevent relating specifically to the extreme right wing. The rise is also evident across Lincolnshire.
Riz told The Lincolnite: “Sometimes having these discussions and conversations, putting on events and doing these things can be a little bit uncomfortable when you’re talking about prejudice and discrimination, stereotyping and labelling, how these things can lead to hate and how hate can manifest itself as extremism.
“It’s important to have these uncomfortable discussions to get these things out there in the open.
“For some people it is simply curiosity; curiosity is fine if somebody wants to understand and learn a bit more, it’s not a problem. But for a minority of people it doesn’t stop at curiosity, they become drawn down a particular path. Prevent is about trying to intervene while that person is walking down that path.”
Local referrals in Lincolnshire of extreme right wing behaviour include young people sat in their bedroom “tapping away and being drawn towards a particular idea,” graffitiing, etching something onto a table, or posting online.
This is where Prevent intervenes to help identify the needs and trying to provide support for an individual.
When asked if the problem has become worse since the referendum vote in 2016, Riz said: “I wouldn’t put it down to Brexit. What we’ve seen is a steady rise over a number of years as a result of single issue protestations from 2010 onwards, and because people’s access to the internet as well.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen social media and the internet grow. People’s access to it has become much greater, so I wouldn’t put it down to one particular area, it’s maybe a combination of factors.”
Women can find out how they could play a vital role in preventing people from being drawn towards extremism at an event in Lincoln.
Lincolnshire Police is hosting a three-hour session at Bishop Grosseteste University between 9.30am-12.30pm on Thursday, July 4.
Riz added: “We thought it would be a really opportune time to try and get a small group of women together to try and impress upon them the real key role that they play with regards to protecting and safeguarding people.
“Studies have shown that if a person, a young person for example, has got a problem or they’ve got a concern either about themselves or somebody else, that the person they’re most likely to speak to in the first instance is their mother.”