On Wednesday 16 January, 27 London Regional and Local Youth Board members were invited by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to a roundtable discussion on countering violent extremism at City Hall.

The evening was part of the ongoing work the Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme, which will inform London’s efforts to tackle radicalisation and violent extremism.

Gwanwyn Mason and Sarah Spencer, policy officers from MOPAC, began the evening with an overview of their work and how discussions would contribute to their report to the Mayor on the suitability of current and future measures of addressing extremism across London.

The NCS graduates then got stuck straight into in-depth conversations about why and who is at risk of extremism, whether there is a link between vulnerability and radicalisation, and addressing the Mayor’s current provision, and what they would change about it. The group offered thoughtful and engaging ideas throughout the evening, addressing each question with consideration and clarity, especially when faced with complex and difficult moral situations.

Gwanwyn and Sarah challenged the group to think hard about their preconceptions and offer honest opinions. They described the group as ‘one of the most articulate and engaging [they’d] spoken to’ and were extremely complimentary of the way they conducted themselves throughout the evening.

London grads visit City Hall on Wednesday 16 January and share their views

Connor Natella, regional graduate manager (south), said: “This was one of the most productive and thought-provoking graduate sessions that I have been lucky enough to be involved in since working at The Challenge. It was mentioned during the session that the opportunity to input on and criticise policy that affects so many of us is a right we all have as citizens – and the young people in attendance certainly took theirs seriously. The room was full of debate and ideas throughout. We are now working to develop our links with the GLA to facilitate more opportunities for young Londoners to get their voices heard.”

The Mayor’s office carried out research in April last year to understand what Londoners’ views and experiences of extremism are and found that 65 per cent of respondents see strong, cohesive and integrated communities as the most effective way of reducing the risk of people carrying out extremist acts, hate crime and terrorism and that 61 per cent of respondents thought the threat from extremism is increasing.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We have to do more to empower communities to speak out and challenge hate crime and extremist views. We need communities to report concerns to the police and local authorities, and find lasting solutions that will stop the spread of violent extremism completely.”