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Play centre staff among Sussex council staff on anti-terror training
Play centre staff and nursery managers are being trained by councils to spot terrorism threats.
Hundreds of council staff, from social workers to foster carers, have been educated how to spot signs of radicalisation among residents.
While many staff work on the front line, including anti-social behaviour officers and housing team members, more unlikely employees receiving the training include environmental health officers and building control managers.
Staff are given lessons lasting up to three hours with a “Home Office approved” DVD to help teach them how to identify vulnerable residents “susceptible to terrorist ideology”.
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In the past two years, Brighton and Hove City Council has trained 95 employees including adult social care workers and youth offending service workers while West Sussex County Council trained 268 staff in 2013 including childminding co-ordinators, early years advisory teachers and recruitment officers.
In the past five years almost 700 staff in Crawley, home of suspected Syrian suicide bomber Abdul Waheed Majeed, have been trained while 14 council staff in genteel Horsham also received training last year in their parks and countryside, parking and environmental health departments.
Worthing and Adur councils trained five workers in 2010 and said there are plans to carry out more radicalisation training this year.
Councils said training costs are minimal because training is held in authority buildings during office hours.
A West Sussex County Council spokeswoman said: “We must stress that West Sussex is not considered a priority area for this strategy or training.
“We do not face any greater risk in West Sussex than in many other areas.
“There was a high number of people taking part in the training last year because it was a new course.
“We do not expect this number of staff to participate in the training every year.”
A Horsham District Council spokesman said: “Horsham District Council recognises that staff have a responsibility to stay vigilant and report concerns, particularly about vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism.
“To help improve the general awareness of the role Council staff can play in reducing the threats from terrorism, the Council invited a number of front-line staff to attend a workshop training session in July 2013 run by West Sussex County Council.
“Feedback about the training was very positive and it's planned to repeat this training offer to include more staff in the near future.”
A Crawley Borough spokesman said the courses aim to improve the ability to identify individuals who are most vulnerable and in need of support.
He added: “The training covers the processes that are used to influence and radicalise vulnerable individuals and the factors which may contribute to an individual's susceptibility to a terrorist ideology.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “This work is in line with the government's Prevent strategy which requires a partnership approach.
“We work closely with the police and a wide range of statutory and third sector organisations and communities.”
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