Thurrock councillors want to form a committee to combat extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.
They want it dedicated to the national anti-terrorism strategy Prevent, and it was discussed at the latest general services committee.
The Prevent strategy was published by the Government in 2011, to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism.
As well as Prevent, councils also have a duty to monitor the threat of modern day slavery and people trafficking.
However, committee chairman Rob Gledhill, said: “We could add an extra part of the purpose to support tackling criminal gang associations too. If you think of the amount of problems that these criminal gangs cause not just for younger people, but also for older people caught up in that gang lifestyle.
“If we are trying to prevent people trying to get into extremism and into terrorist groups that are going to cause us problems why shouldn’t we also looking to prevent children getting into that gang lifestyle and gang associations because let’s face it we read and see on the news every single day another life lost or permanently ruined, not necessarily in Thurrock but certainly our neighbours in London.”
Counter Extremism and Terrorism – and within this the Prevent agenda – is one of the five priorities of the Community Safety Partnership, the scrutiny and oversight of the partnership is formally undertaken by the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Labour group leader John Kent feared an extra committee would be counter-productive. He said: “I think we are in danger of listening to a resolution of council that wanted to get work done on the Prevent agenda and are now trying to add other things to it that water down and dilute the very purpose of the committee.
“I also think it runs the danger of having things like gang crime, things that we know are incredibly serious issues now falling between three different scrutiny committees rather than just the two they fall between now. I just think it fragments things even further.”
Despite the concerns, councillors agreed the additional duties and will present the proposals to full council.