Prevent Watch

“Aaron-gate”: Prevent smears ‘anti-fracking’ activism in post-Manchester Arena report

anti-fracking activism prevent duty uk

A report on tackling ‘hateful extremism’ has been caught up in a barrage of criticism entirely of its authors’ own making, after smearing anti-fracking campaigners and then admitting it made a “dreadful error”, reports The Network for Police Monitoring.

The report, A Shared Future [1.2Mb] by the Greater Manchester Preventing Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion Commission, commissioned in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack, included a case study of a 14 year old boy, “Aaron”, who it alleged was “groomed” by anti-fracking campaigners.

As a result, he was referred by his school to Prevent and then to the “deradicalisation” programme, Channel, due to “concerns about his extreme beliefs in relation to the environment, specifically issues around fracking”.

The case study alleged the teenager had been “targeted via social media and encouraged to participate in local protests, hand out leaflets, etc. by local activists” and that counter-terrorism police officers had intervened to issue “an abduction notice to the main protagonist of the social media lobbying”, which immediately frightened away all the campaigners “Aaron” was in contact with.

The report notes, approvingly, that “the police and other partners have a wealth of disruption tactics at their disposal”.

Following swift condemnation by Netpol and the Green Party peer Jenny Jones, Greater Manchester Police subsequently told the Guardian that the case study was false: “Aaron” was never involved in the anti-fracking movement and had allegedly been “targeted by an entirely different group of activists”.

Read more on The Network for Police Monitoring.

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