THE work being done in Waltham Forest to tackle the spread of violent extremism has been praised by the government minister.

Shahid Malik MP spoke to delegates at the council's conference on the Prevent initiative - which is part of the government’s anti-terrorism strategy.

Waltham Forest was one of the first local authorities to adopt what is known as the ‘Prevent agenda’, which includes a number of projects aimed at undermining the influence of islamist ideology.

These include the Young Muslim Leaders program, which creates mentors for young followers of Islam.

Mr Malik, who is the minister responsible for Prevent, said: “We cannot afford to dismiss the extremists, we need a zero tolerance approach to violence and terrorism. We must fill the psychological vacuum by ensuring individuals and communities are resilient to the people who would corrupt them.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Chris Robbins, said: "We have a strong tradition of tolerance, cohesion and understanding among our communities in this borough.

"And I am proud that we have developed a regional and national reputation for our proactive work in promoting community cohesion and tackling violent extremism."

The Prevent agenda was launched in the borough following a number of high-profile anti-terrorism arrests in the borough in 2006, which resulted in four men being jailed for their invlovement in a plot to blow up transatlantic flights.

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