Councillors in County Durham and Darlington have been taking part in a course designed to raise awareness about extremism.
Members of the Durham Police and Crime Panel – including Aycliffe North and Middridge ward councillor Mike Dixon – have completed an e-learning course, called Prevent.
The course forms part of the Government’s wider counter terrorism strategy, which places a new requirement on local councils and police forces to support efforts to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and violent extremism.
It aims to raise awareness and understanding of how some people might be vulnerable to radicalisation, how to recognise when this is happening and what should be done to prevent the situation escalating.
Cllr Joy Allen, chair of the Durham Police and Crime Panel, said: “We’re very lucky that County Durham and Darlington are generally very safe places to live. However, councils have an important role to play in combating extremism.
“In light of the current heightened awareness around the world, it is everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant.”
Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member with responsibility for councillor development at Durham County Council, said: “We’re encouraging our councillors to take advantage of the Prevent e-learning course.
“We work in the heart of our communities and this course can undoubtedly assist in identifying potentially vulnerable residents who may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism and violent extremism.”
Members of the panel who have completed the online learning course were presented with certificates by Durham Constabulary’s Deputy Chief Constable Steve Watson.
Deputy Chief Constable Watson said: “In our efforts to combat extremism in all its forms, law enforcement agencies rely to a huge extent on the intelligence provided by local communities.
“We welcome the involvement of the Police and Crime Panel, spreading awareness and learning about these issues can only be a good thing.”