Prevent Watch

Public Technology: Secretive RICU signs £1m media monitoring deal

RICU Surveillance UK

RICU, a mysterious communications unit within the Home Office that aims to combat extremism has signed a £1m deal for “media monitoring and evaluation services”.

The prosaically named Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) forms part of the Prevent Directorate housed within the Homeland Security Group of the home affairs department. According to a current job advert for three vacant campaign manager positions, RICU’s remit includes “developing and implementing evidence-based campaigns and behaviour change activity in support of national security priorities”.

Recruitment efforts and procurement notices are among of the few occasions on which – albeit limited – information on the work of RICU is published openly. Despite having been founded 15 years ago, there are fewer than 10 mentions of RICU anywhere on GOV.UK, including the site’s archives of thousands of announcements, documents, and ministerial speeches.

The unit has, however, made headlines at various points over the years over what is seen as an underhand approach. RICU is understood to have conceived and orchestrated various campaigns – particularly anti-extremism initiatives involving British Muslims – which have then launched under the pretence of being grassroots projects, with no overt government involvement in their creation.

Read more here.

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