Date: May 2015
Location: Greater London
Case Study: X
In this case, a mother was approached by a Prevent officer over the course of six-months, visiting the family home 3-4 times a month regarding her eldest son ‘x’, who was studying for his A-levels. Prevent was successful in attaining the mothers cooperation. When questioned why she cooperated with Prevent officers, she replied “I have nothing to hide of my sons, and if I don’t answer their questions, they’ll think I’m hiding something, and things will get worse.” Prevent officers have systematically harassed ‘X’ to the extent that X would anticipate contact via text or phone call at 07:00am to see if X was awake, and offer him breakfast!
On one occasion, the Prevent officers took him to the local ice-cream parlour, and spoke about Islam, ideology and political issues related to the Islamic state. Again, due to the climate of fear that already exists within communities impacted by the War on Terror, ‘X’ felt helpless and could not say “no” or refuse the Prevent officers. X knew that he was being harassed by Prevent, but did not have the confidence to deal with the systematic questioning. The Prevent officers in this case did not approach the father, but rather proactively contacted the mother and involuntarily made her a point of contact.
This may indicate that Prevent officers are utilising mothers as a monitoring tool against their own children and to effectively police signs of radicalisation and extremism. The mother in the case eventually recognised that the Prevent officers were not “…here to help [X]” and thus received legal assistance to stop harassment.