Monday 19 March 2018

Brent Council's response to Islamophobic April 3rd letter

In a welcome move Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Council lead member for Stronger Communities, has written to all councillors setting out his response to the Islamophobic  'Punish a Muslim' 'April 3rd' letter which has received much publicity on social media.

Cllr Miller writes:

The letters sent are just one example of a swathe of Islamophobic material reported and made more widely available by Tellmama, who are a partner organisation in our own anti-hate crime drive. For those members who have not come across Tellmama’s work in cataloguing incidents like this, more information can be found here:

The letters concerned involve a general threat of violence against Muslims on April 3rd. Thus far, I have not received any indication from members, police, Council officers or members of the public about people receiving the letters in Brent. I have also received no information about any other threats, specific or general, made against targets or communities in Brent. It would be unusual if a police investigation into the letters is not underway.

I would be very keen to hear about any specific incidents or threats (including receiving this letter) if they have taken place. This should also be reported to Police immediately.

I’d stress that the council has also invested in a number of measures to tackle hate crime which can help people to report, make sure that cases are dealt with appropriately and that victims are represented, and that people receive the support they need. You can find information for reporting and the rest of the activity we have undertaken by using the link below:

In addition to making sure that any incidents are reported, I would be very happy to hear of any specific preventative actions residents are keen on us adopting, and will pass them on to Police colleagues, who are also copied in here and may be able to update further.

On the issue about Prevent, far right activity certainly falls within its scope, but Prevent is really about flagging radicalisation during its development, and in Brent is specifically about safeguarding its victims. The kind of threat made in this letter is in my view clearly a criminal threat of violence and is therefore more seriously developed than we would expect Prevent to deal with, as well as being anonymous. Prevent doesn’t give us powers to detect extremist threats, for example; in a case like this, Prevent would aim to reach the person who wrote the letters before they had carried out any kind of criminal activity and offer interventions such as counselling, usually because of a concern highlighted by professional they are dealing with, for example social workers. So, although Prevent covers the far right, in this particular case the anonymity and criminal aspect means that this will usually fall within the ‘Pursue’ or ‘Protect’ parts of the government’s CONTEST strategy, being dealt with through the Home Office and Police

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