Birmingham and the Black Country are to receive the lion’s share of a £12.5 million Home Office package to fight religious extremism.
Town halls will be urged to “map” their areas by religion and social background, as part of a range of measures published by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.
Teachers, youth club leaders and mosques should also look out for young people who may be “vulnerable” to becoming involved in terrorism or religious extremism, according to guidance issued. Youngsters may be at risk because their parents are getting divorced or because they are unemployed, Ministers have warned.
Most of the funding is expected to come to Birmingham and the Black Country, which has been at the centre of a number of anti-terror investigations.
In February, five Birmingham men were jailed on terror-related charges.
They included Parviz Khan, aged 37, from Alum Rock, Birmingham, who was jailed for life after he admitted leading a plot to kidnap and behead a British soldier, and sending equipment to terrorists in Pakistan.
The package was published by Ms Smith, the MP for Redditch, as the Government continued its battle to win support for new terror laws allowing suspects to be held up to 42 days without trial.
Labour rebels threatening to vote down the policy in the Commons next week were said to be coming round to the Government’s side, following a bravura performance by Ms Smith as she addressed backbenchers on Monday evening.
And the Home Secretary has published a series of concessions on 42-day detention without charge designed to win over wavering MPs. She said the time for which the police could use the power would be halved to 30 days and MPs would have to approve them being invoked within a week rather than a month.
It raises the prospect of Parliament being recalled for an emergency session should a major threat be uncovered during one of its long holiday periods.
The Government’s guidance for local agencies spotlights a number of schemes already operating in the West Midlands as examples of good practice for other local authorities to follow.
They include a city council project to help improve management at local mosques, and a training scheme for imams based at Stourbridge College, which had helped imams conduct services in English.
Ms Smith said the strategy was designed “to expose and isolate the apologists for violence and protect the places where they operate.”
She said: “The national security challenges we face demand fresh approaches.
“A key element of our strategy aims to stop people getting involved in extremist violence. We are investing at local level to build resilient communities, which are equipped to confront violent extremism and support the most vulnerable individuals.”
The guidance urges agencies which work with young people to intervene if they believe youngsters could become involved in extremism. In some cases this might mean helping them deal with emotional issues such as a divorce, while in other cases it may involve enrolling them on mentoring schemes.
Councils should also develop detailed “maps” of the communities they serve, to identify the most likely sources of extremism.
The Home Office document states: “A deeper understanding of local communities should be developed to help inform and focus the programme of action – this may include mapping denominational backgrounds and demographic and socio-economic factors as well as establishing community infrastructure and ways of accessing and influencing communities.
“This will help local partners to develop a richer understanding of the factors underpinning the challenge in a locality, and will provide a firmer basis on which to engage local communities.”
Councils should also offer more support to community bodies which challenge extremist ideas, the Home Office said. But they should be ruthless in cutting off funds for any organisation which appears to endorse violence.
A Home Office spokesman said the maps referred to in today’s strategy document were already being drawn up.
They would not focus only on Muslim extremism but “anywhere prone to extremist talk and violent behaviour”, he said.
“This is not an anti-Muslim document. It will cover denominations of all faiths.”
David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, said: “This is pointless when the Government is fuelling the problem it is seeking to solve with its draconian approach to 42 days.”
Birmingham MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said: “It’s important we make the most of existing structures which the council is already using to work successfully with mosques and other bodies.”