5 April 2016

There are not 28 young 'jihadists’ in the city

The following is a joint statement from Brighton & Hove City Council’s director of children’s services, Pinaki Ghoshal; and Sussex Police’s chief superintendent for Brighton & Hove, Nev Kemp:

"We would like to make it clear that there are not ‘28 city jihadists intent on terror’ in Brighton & Hove as has recently been claimed in the media.

“Approximately 18 months ago we had concerns relating to a number of young people in the city who we considered to be at risk of exploitation. This followed the widely reported departure of five young people from the city to Syria.

“The young people were not working together as a ‘gang’ as stated in some press coverage. They were individuals who were not all known to each other. We wanted to ensure they were kept safe.

“Our concerns were not solely about radicalisation. They were as much about their vulnerability to criminal activity and in some cases sexual exploitation.

“We have worked in established partnerships with local community and religious groups to engage with these young people, hear their grievances and help them turn their lives around in a more positive direction.

“This work has been very successful and as a result we do not consider these young people to be at risk of radicalisation. None of them have gone to Syria.

“Tackling exploitation is a key priority for the city’s child protection services. At any given time we are working with a number of young people who are at risk of exploitation. Radicalisation is part of this work.

“We remain permanently vigilant in this regard and continue to work across a wide range of multi-agency partners in order to be so.

“There is no cell of people based in this city radicalising young people. Radicalisation is being conducted world-wide, primarily through the internet. It is an issue in towns and cities across the country.

“We would stress the very positive role the local Muslim community has played and continues to play in combating radicalisation and offering positive role models to young people.

“We would like to underline that the exploitation of young people is a national issue, and that we have no reason to believe that the situation in Brighton & Hove is any different to the situation in other cities across the UK.”