Doctors are to be drafted into the fight against terrorism by being asked to identify patients at risk of being drawn into violent extremism. The controversial move will be spelt out today by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, as she publishes the Government's much-delayed strategy for combating extremism.
Plans to ask medical professionals to alert authorities about people vulnerable to radicalisation will alarm doctors' groups, amid fears it could erode patient confidentiality.
The so-called "Prevent" strategy will also promise a drive against the spread of hardline Islamist teaching in prisons, which are often targeted by extremists as recruiting grounds. All convicted terrorists will have their beliefs countered while in jail and other offenders who could have fallen foul of "preachers of hate" will be tracked after their release.
Ms May is expected to argue that millions of pounds have been wasted on anti-terror projects overseas, in nations such as Pakistan, with little proof they have tackled problems in Britain – while similar programmes in this country have been neglected.
A heavy focus of the document will be on countering the presence of extremist groups in universities and colleges. Ms May has accused vice-chancellors of complacency over the threat after counter-terrorist officers identified 40 institutions vulnerable to the activities of such militants. Ms May will stress that the strategy is aimed not just at dealing with threats from Islamist extremists, but also from Irish terrorists, far-right groups and by animal rights activists.
Community groups applying for public money will have to prove they do not espouse hardline views.
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