Prevent Watch

The News Reading Case

Date: July 2015
Gender: Female
Location: South East
Case Study – AA

AA is a secondary school student who was questioned by social services in the presence of police based on allegations made by a family member. These allegations concerned the literature and news she was reading. She had read articles and watched documentaries created by a news agency from the Middle East.

An example of such a documentary is the rescue of concentration camp detainees during the Second World War. AA had started watching these documentaries because her father, of Middle Eastern descent, wanted her to learn about different lifestyles and cultures and to have a better understanding of the world.

When AA was questioned by social services, she did her best to answer them. Social services wanted to know why AA was using these particular news agencies as a source of news. Social services suggested alternative news outlets. AA replied that she wanted a better understanding of the world, as her father has suggested and thought the documentaries she watched were educational. She continued that as her father was of Middle Eastern descent, she wanted to know about her cultural heritage. AA was questioned in this manner because her relatives were concerned that her father was radicalising her.

What is disturbing about cases such as these are the spurious allegations being pursued and the exercising of powers by authorities under PREVENT. Based on the articles which were read and the documentaries that were watched, there should have been no cause for concern by social services. However, social services still exercised their powers to question a student for something which should not have been a cause for concern.

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