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The Independent: Free speech violation as student essays reported to Prevent

In a shocking free speech violation, students have had their university essays investigated by counter-terrorism police and faced questioning by staff under Prevent, reports The Independent. Campaigners and experts warn that free speech is being stifled on campus and trust destroyed because of the “overzealous” Prevent programme, with students and lecturers becoming “suspects and informants”. Freedom of Information requests reveal that academic materials have been flagged in response to the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy – but it is understood that no action has been taken against students. Read more at The Independent Related… What we can expect from Prevent in the new academic year (Expert View, 2023) Higher Education, Prevent and Academic Freedom in the UK (Book Chapter, 2023) The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2023)  

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Father of Jack Letts ‘cannot get psychological care’ because of Prevent | Middle East Eye

The father of a British man being held among suspected Islamic State members in Syria has told Middle East Eye that he has been unable to access confidential psychiatric treatment because of the Prevent Duty. John Letts, the father of Jack Letts, told MEE that he had tried to access mental healthcare services to help him cope with stress after he and his wife, Sally Lane, last year stood trial on terrorism charges over their efforts to send money to their son to help him escape from IS-controlled territory. But Letts said he had been told by National Health Service psychiatrists in his home city of Oxford that they might be required to pass on information to the police under their Prevent Duty obligations. Source: Father of Jack Letts ‘cannot get psychological care’ because of Prevent | Middle East Eye

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The parents treated as terrorists for trying to save their son | Middle East Eye

When Jack Letts, 18, went to Islamic State-controlled Syria in 2014, his parents thought police wanted to help them get him home. They were wrong From outside, the entrance looked unpromising: a nondescript grey door tucked behind a supermarket and a mosque on a traffic-choked high street in east London. But inside the welcome could not have been warmer. For Sally Lane and John Letts, the journey of a few hours from their home in Oxford was as nothing compared to the months of parental angst they had endured since learning that their teenage son, Jack Letts, had travelled, as his mother wrote to a friend, to the “worst possible place”. And now finally, they felt, they had found the man they had been looking for. “They were so friendly. They kept hugging us,” Letts told Middle East Eye. Source: The parents treated as terrorists for trying to save their […]

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Prevent and Countering Violent Extremism usher in ‘whole society’ surveillance | openDemocracy

In the aftermath of Sudesh Amman’s attacks in London on February 2, the Evening Standard London ran as its frontpage an appeal from Counter-terror police chiefs, calling for the public to take a more active role in stopping terror threats. These appeals, alongside refrains such as “communities defeat terrorism”, and calls for the public to “trust their instincts” in identifying potential ‘extremists’, have increased in recent years. They are often expressed alongside demands to support the Prevent counter-extremism programme and to extend it further, to develop what is often called a “whole society approach” to countering extremism. Here, the responsibility of surveillance and security steps decisively out of the exclusive remit of government agencies and are rolled out across the public, private and civil sector and into the heart of society. Source: Prevent and Countering Violent Extremism usher in ‘whole society’ surveillance | openDemocracy

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Ministers refuse to reveal how many extremists they have stripped of British citizenship | The Independent

The government has refused to reveal how many people have been deprived of their British citizenship in the past two years after dramatically increasing its use of controversial powers to prevent the return of Isis members. The number of people subjected to the measure rose by more than 600 per cent in 2017, despite an official review warning that it might be an “ineffective and counter-productive weapon against terrorism”. An official “transparency” report containing statistics on citizenship deprivations was due for release last summer but has not yet been published, and the Home Office refused to give The Independent updated figures. Source: Ministers refuse to reveal how many extremists they have stripped of British citizenship | The Independent