CITY leaders have held crunch talks to defuse tension caused over the handling of extremism in Portsmouth.
Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes and council leader Donna Jones fell out after he said primary school children were at risk of becoming radicalised, and the authority was not tackling the problem.
I said to Mr Hayes that the best thing for him to do was raise any concerns with me, rather than through social media, on television or at a public meeting held last week.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Cllr Jones and other critics said there was not any evidence supporting the claims – despite Mr Hayes insisting that that’s the information he’s received from police working in schools.
Yesterday the pair got together with other council and police officials to work out a way forward.
It comes after the Tory councillor reported Mr Hayes to the Home Office over his claims Portsmouth children were showing an interested in becoming ‘Jihadi brides’ – and demanded he receive enhanced training.
Cllr Jones said she reinforced the message to Mr Hayes that he needs to come to her with concerns – and not to the media.
She told The News: ‘We had a briefing from the special branch of the police about what has been going on in Portsmouth over the last few years, and what we need to do going forward.
‘We talked about the events over the last 48 hours and worked on a communications strategy.
‘I said to Mr Hayes that the best thing for him to do was raise any concerns with me, rather than through social media, on television or at a public meeting which was held last week.’
Asked why it was important Mr Hayes went to her over the extremism agenda, Cllr Jones said: ‘It’s for the security of the city.
‘This is about the safety of the citizens of Portsmouth.’
Mr Hayes said he would ‘not hold back’ from ensuring the council fulfils its duties – but is now assured it is taking things seriously.
He said: ‘I’m finally reassured that Portsmouth City Council is beginning to address the issues that were of concern to me.
‘As police and crime commissioner, I take my responsibility for protecting people and places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight very seriously.
‘In addition to holding the chief constable to account, the public expect me to challenge partners where appropriate to ensure they are properly protecting our communities from harm.
‘As such, I have every reason to be interested and concerned about how radicalism is being managed across our area.
‘I will not hold back from ensuring that appropriate focus is applied where I feel it is right to do so.
‘I will continue to monitor the situation across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’