Lawyer Nazir Afzal Says “Stop Using Same Muslim Community Leaders”

5 June 2017, 15:10

The former Chief Crown Prosecutor said the government has got “lazy” by going to the same “community leaders” and that we don’t need more legislation.

Mr Afzal, who was the most senior muslim in the Crown Prosecution Service, criticised the government and wider British state for not using more sources for comment and insight.

“Part of the problem is we’re really lazy. We simply just go to the same usual suspects, the same community leaders, that horrible phrase, because we think they know the answers.”

He says we need to speak to people closest to those engaged with or tempted by extremist ideology.

“I live in Manchester and I’ve had young people coming up to me and saying ‘I have a voice, I want to say something, but nobody listens to me.’

“We need to give them a voice, and also women groups, because women, particularly in the Muslim community, are already engaged with the families, they’re identifying people at risk. But they’re doing it on a shoe string.”

Mr Afzal says resources need to be better allocated and go to groups working with at risk people who are offering them an alternative to extremism. He says the situation for these groups is dire though.

“They literally might not survive the year because they don’t have enough funding.

“What we tend to do is fund the big ticket items, but we ask these smaller groups to fill in very long business cases to get the funding. Well they don’t have the time.

“If you don’t have the time to do a business case because you’re busy then you’re the organisation we should be funding, you’re the organisation we should be supporting, because ultimately they’re the ones that keep us safe.”

Mr Afzal has led prosecutions of grooming gangs and in honour killing cases. He says that the UK doesn’t need new laws to combat terrorism.

“I think we’ve had 11 bits of legislation on terrorism since 2000; counter terrorism act, prevention of terrorism act, I think we’re running out of names for them.

“The high end stuff takes care of itself. The work that needs to happen, even more so than it already is, is work within the communities, because that’s where virtually all intelligence comes from.”