Adjournment Debate: UK Citizens Returning from Fighting Daesh

Posted on April 19th, 2016 in Local News

Keith intervened in the Adjournment Debate on UK Citizens Returning from Fighting Daesh on Tuesday 19th April, 2016.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on initiating this excellent debate, and he is right that we must try to prevent people from going out there in the first place. What more does he think that internet companies should do to bring down these sites as soon as possible? At the moment, the referral process takes too long.

Robert Jenrick: I completely concur with the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. It is important that Facebook and others take down not only sites that are actively recruiting British citizens to fight for IS, but sites that might be preying on naïve and vulnerable Britons who, in their eyes, have decided to do the right thing, but are none the less getting themselves into grave danger.

Some of those individuals, particularly ex-servicemen and women, would be advised not to go to the conflict zone. Few questions are asked by the recruiters and no military experience is required. Health is never checked, and many if not most people arrive at airports such as Sulaymaniyah completely in the dark about what they should expect. They could be kidnapped and held to ransom—who knows?


Keith Vaz: The Minister is absolutely right to suggest that we are dealing with a very sophisticated enemy. May I take him back to the point made by the hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) about border checks? We still do not have 100% border checks, because our passports are not viewed by immigration officers on departure. They are looked at, together with our boarding cards, by the travel agents, but we are not checked on departure. The hon. Gentleman is calling for better checks at the border, with our passports being looked at by immigration officers and swiped before departure. That does not happen at the moment.

Mr Hayes: The Chair of the Home Affairs Committee takes a keen interest in all such matters. What I will say to my hon. Friend the Member for Newark is that it seems that if people have notified the local police that they may go, which is what he said, and then no more has been done for the reasons that the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) suggested, that does not seem satisfactory. It certainly seems reasonable that if people have notified the police that they are going to travel—although it is of course for the police to make a case-by-case judgment on an operational basis—we need at least to be confident that the police have the right guidance on what is appropriate. I am certainly happy to take that suggestion back to the Home Office and to see what more can be done, if anything, to ensure that the advice to different police forces around the country is consistent. As I say, these are, in the end, operational matters, and this has to be gauged on a case-by-case basis, but my hon. Friend the Member for Newark makes an important point none the less.