Between the 10-12th September 2018, Forward Thinking facilitated a series of community roundtables between Max Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and diverse range of British Muslim community representatives. Over the three days, meetings took place in Leicester, Dewsbury, Bradford and Manchester, and engaged young people, faith leaders, community campaigners, members of local government and political activists.

The meetings offered a confidential space for different communities to have open and frank conversations on their understanding and experiences of counter terrorism legislation in the UK. It also provided an opportunity to discuss the unprecedented wave of terror attacks experienced by the UK in 2017, and their consequences for community cohesion and the perception of key authorities, such as the police. Discussions built on a number community roundtables facilitated last year by Forward Thinking between Mr Hill and around 20 diverse community organisations in: Leicester, Bradford, Manchester and London, and engaged many of the same participants, thus enabling a reflective conversation where communities identified where they felt improvements had been made and where challenges endure.

A wide range of issues were explored, including the impact of the current legislation on the ability of small charities to carry out work overseas; the proposed changes to counter-terrorism legislation announced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill of 2018 (including the creation of a designated area offence, and the so-called “3-clicks” offence); the use of Schedule 7 powers; the rise of hate crime and the government’s efforts to tackle far-right extremism.

Reflecting on the visit, Mr Hill stated: “I was pleased to renew many acquaintances, to meet others for the first time, and to benefit from constructive discussions in Leicester, Dewsbury, Bradford and Manchester. Whether meeting mayors, crime commissioners, imams, head teachers, community leaders, youth workers or students, I am always struck by how much we all share in our resolve to rid our country of terrorism, whilst celebrating diversity and multiculturalism. I will pass on my list of contacts to the next Independent Reviewer, and I expect these engagements to endure and to grow over time.”

A public report of the visit, highlighting the key themes and main recommendations, will shortly be produced and circulated to help inform the work of key policymakers working in the field.