Defining (or Identifying) Recent Trends in Extremism in the UK: Our Communities are under Threat

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:30 in Discussion Forums

Venue: Central London
Date: Wednesday, 26th February 2020
Time: 18:30-20:30


  • Abu Ahmad, Prevent’s Head of Local Delivery & Communications at the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism
  • Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor in Hate Studies at the Centre for Hate Studies, University of Leicester
  • Milo Comerford, Senior Policy Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD)
  • Dr Julia Rushchenko, Senior Lecturer in Policing and Criminal Investigations, University of West London


Since the 9/11 terror attacks and the London bombings of 7 July 2005, people concerned with extremism have mostly channelled their attention to violent religious extremism. However, this has led to negligence in the understanding of other forms of extremist threats, especially from the far-right. As one senior counter-terrorism officer has recently pointed out, the rise of the far-right is the fastest-growing terrorist threat in the UK. A third of all terror plots to kill in Britain since 2017 were by those driven by extreme-right causes. As the Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism points out, although jihadists still remain by far the most significant terrorist threat to the UK, along with far-right, other forms of religious extremism, far left, or even animal rights extremism cause considerable concern for the safety of our communities. Therefore, the discussion aims to define (or identify) the recent trends in extremism, whether violent or hateful extremism, and discuss what roles can the government, public bodies, tech companies and civil society play in countering this imminent threat.


Abu Ahmad is currently Prevent’s Head of Local Delivery & Communications at the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. He has been a civil servant for 16 years and has worked in a range of government departments on policies including equalities, legislation, community cohesion, international policy, and counter-terrorism. Abu is currently responsible for leading the local implementation of the UK’s Countering Violent Extremism programme – Prevent, in partnership with local authorities and NGOs across England and Wales.

Dr Chris Allen is an Associate Professor in Hate Studies at the Centre for Hate Studies, University of Leicester. For almost two decades, he has been researching Islamophobia, counter-extremism and counter-terror, and wider issues relating to the ‘problematisation’ of Muslim communities. This has included investigating the experience of Muslim women victims of street-level hate crime, the anti-Islam ideologies of the far-right, the community impact of counter-terror legislation, and governmental engagement with Muslim communities. Over the past decade, he’s held various independent advisory roles across the British political spectrum and was until recently, he was an independent adviser to the British Government on Anti-Muslim Hate and Islamophobia. His book ‘Reconfiguring Islamophobia’ was published by Palgrave in January this year and will be followed by another about the now proscribed far-right group National Action in the summer.

Milo Comerford is Senior Policy Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), an organisation dedicated to understanding and innovating real-world responses to the rising tide of polarisation, hate and extremism globally. He leads ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to Islamist extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision-makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. His writing and research feature frequently in international media, including The Guardian, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Spectator, and New Statesman, and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera. Milo was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on jihadi propaganda, religious counter-narratives to extremism and the transnational far-right. Milo studied Philosophy and Theology at the University of Oxford, and previously worked on a global education programme, building open-mindedness and resilience to extremism in young people across 30 countries.

Dr Julia Rushchenko is an Associate Professor at the University of West London where she teaches Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. She holds a PhD in Criminology from Utrecht University that she completed in the framework of the research project fully funded by the European Commission, and previously has held a number of academic appointments in the Netherlands, Germany and the USA. Besides her academic expertise, she regularly consults think tanks and NGOs on the issues of counter-extremism and radicalisation. Julia speaks Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian and Portuguese languages.