Prevent Watch

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Would you appoint Nigel Farage for a Brexit “independent” review?

Imagine if the government wanted an ‘independent’ review of Brexit, but proceeded to appoint Nigel Farage to conduct the review. To appoint someone so clearly in favour of Brexit would be completely absurd. Yet the government has appointed Alex Carlile[1]– a man who has made no secret of the fact that he is a supporter of Prevent – to be the so-called ‘independent’ reviewer for this harmful policy. Prevent and counter-extremism policy is generally suffering from a lack of support. It is like the dead parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch. It has become an ex-policy. It has ceased to ‘be’ – well, to be credible, at least. Read more

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Government appoints Prevent advocate to lead its professed ‘independent’ review

The British government has appointed Lord Carlile as its new ‘independent’ reviewer of the contentious counter-extremism strategy known as Prevent. The appointment of Lord Carlile as the lead investigator is in fact a re-appointment, as he was the same reviewer who approved of the Government’s failed strategy in 2011. Critics have suggested that the entire process of supposedly reviewing the strategy is a step towards legitimising Prevent. According to security minister Brandon Lewis, Lord Carlile “brings a wealth of experience and skills to this role. As the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, he showed independence and rigour and I am pleased he has agreed to lead this review.” [1] Many have stated that there is nothing independent nor transparent about appointing an investigator who supports Prevent. Lord Carlile has even propagated the programme’s discriminatory practices, making clear his stance on the policy multiple times and even making suggestions on […]

If Shamima Begum is to be prosecuted at home, the public must be told exactly how she was radicalised

I have no sympathy towards Shamima Begum for joining Isis. However, I do have serious concerns as to how our society allowed this to happen. And as speculation grows over whether she will now be prosecuted at home – despite government commitments to strip her of her citizenship – that is still not clear. In December 2014, 15-year-old Sharmeena Begum was the first London schoolgirl who left to go to Syria. Her father, Mohammed Uddin, was so concerned about her friends that he informed the police and the asked school to keep an eye on her friends. But in February 2015, friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamina Begum, 15 and Kadiza Sultana, 16, ran away to Syria. The case of Shamima Begum is under discussion again this week as it emerged that journalists who met and interviewed the young Isis recruit inside a refugee camp have been asked to turn over […]

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Sweden and UK’s surveillance programs on trial at the European Court of Human Rights

This week, the highest body of the European Court of Human Rights heard arguments against the mass surveillance programs of two countries, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The legal proceedings in the two cases started years before, in 2008 and 2013, respectively, with the litigation eventually reaching the court’s highest body, the ECHR Grand Chamber, who heard them one after the other, in succession on Wednesday, July 10. Both cases made similar arguments, asserting that the signals intelligence programs in the two respective countries set up mass surveillance operations to intercept all citizens’ communications, kept the programs secret, and ran them — and continue to run them — without proper oversight and checks and balances in place. Read more

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MI5’s use of personal data was ‘unlawful’, says watchdog

The security service MI5 has handled large amounts of personal data in an “undoubtedly unlawful” way, a watchdog has said. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner said information gathered under warrants was kept too long and not stored safely. Civil rights group Liberty said the breaches involved the “mass collection of data of innocent citizens”. The high court heard MI5 knew about the issues in 2016 but kept them secret. “MI5 have been holding on to people’s data – ordinary people’s data, your data, my data – illegally for many years,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for Liberty, which brought the case. Read more

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The government’s terror strategy ‘compromises the Mental Health Act and must be challenged’

Add to this how, in 2015, the Home Office made the Prevent policy [Prevent is a controversial programme that aims to divert people from terrorism before they offend, and is currently voluntary] a statutory duty for public bodies to have ‘due regard’ in identifying and reporting patients deemed vulnerable to radicalisation. Doing so, the UK government has designated healthcare settings a ‘pre-criminal space’. Elusive terms such as extremism and radicalisation have racial connotations in public consciousness, associated primarily with the Muslim ‘other’. Add to this the securitisation of integration discussions with the Prevent policy’s insistence on ambiguous ‘British Values’, it is unsurprising then that British Muslims are 40 times more likely to receive a Prevent referral than someone who is not a Muslim– despite the increased emphasis on the far-right. Now, an individual vulnerable to ill-defined radicalisation who is sectioned under the Mental Health Act will continue to have their information shared with the […]

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Thinking Through Prevent Workshop

This event is aimed at anyone who has experienced ethical dilemmas in relation to the PREVENT Strategy. This might be as someone who has been referred under PREVENT, as a teacher, medical professional, academic or anyone else who has come into contact with this controversial strategy. The PREVENT Strategy is a recent concern of many and this session will start a conversation to help guide us through these concerns together. We welcome anyone to come and join the conversation. Read more

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“Aaron-gate” – Prevent’s latest smearing of legitimate political dissent

A report on tackling ‘hateful extremism’ commissioned in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack 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”. The report, A Shared Future [, 1.2Mb] by the Greater Manchester Preventing Hateful Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion Commission, included a case study of a 14 year old boy, “Aaron”, who it alleged ‘groomed’ by anti-fracking campaigners and therefore referred by his school to the Prevent “deradicalisation” programme, Channel, due to “concerns about his extreme beliefs in relation to the environment, specifically issues around fracking”. Read more