College chief defends Prevent strategy
‘At this moment in time, going to ISIS is like the new trend’
A BBC documentary, featuring views from students at Kirklees College in ‘support’ of extremist organisations such as the Islamic State, has been slammed by the institution’s principal.
Peter McCann says the college’s work with the government’s Prevent agenda has been ‘applauded’ by the Home Office and said he was proud of the ‘social cohesion work’ provided for the local community.
The college had been selected to feature on BBC Radio 4’s Today Show after being designated as a priority area for the government’s counter-extremism strategy amidst concerns of the influence of online grooming via jihadi propaganda.
One student, who is not named in the feature, says that joining the extremist group is the ‘new trend’.
“In a way I don’t blame them for going because they are looking for a better life,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today Show.
“They fantasise that they are going to have this luxury life. At this moment in time going to ISIS is like the new trend. You get all the young lads going.”
The documentary team also interviewed Polly Harrow, head of student’s services, who spoke about the college’s work with the Prevent scheme.
Mr McCann said this work has always been taken ‘very seriously’ by staff and students alike.
“As is the expectation of all educational establishments, the Prevent agenda is taken very seriously at Kirklees College,” he said.
“We recognise that as part of West Yorkshire, we are based in a priority area for our Government to work with all young people. We are part of a network of local and national organisations who are responsible for safeguarding those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation.
“Kirklees College has been applauded by the Home Office for the positive work it has been doing with the local authority on the national Prevent programme, providing support for young people at risk of radicalisation.
“The college is a harmonious community with students from very many social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and we are very proud of the social cohesion work we provide for the community of Kirklees.”
Earlier this year, Mirfield Free Grammar pupil Talha Asmal, from Dewsbury, Kirklees, was named as Britain’s youngest suicide bomber after fleeing to join IS.