Latest Prevent training reveal: Beware of the BLM, PSC and refugees – and watch broke and neurodiverse people

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Participant in most recent Prevent training reveal exposes shocking new developments including being told to photograph BLM and PSC insignia, and the cost of living crisis as a “driver of extremism”.

It is mandatory for me to complete the Prevent training as part of my safeguarding responsibilities in my role in youth participation.

I work to get young people’s voices heard, including individuals described as vulnerable.

I have undergone Prevent training before, on the Home Office website, which was more general and simple, compared to the most recent training.

This training was completely different in its delivery. It was an online session with about 40 other participants from various roles, including from schools and youth organisations.

Complete lack of engagement in Prevent training

This was a live training and I sensed the trainer was getting a bit frustrated with all the participants for their lack of engagement.

Nobody was asking any questions, and it was clear we were all there just because we had to be.

The trainer explicitly told us we could not take any photos of any of the slides used during the training as the material was ‘sensitive’.

One participant asked if the slides would be shared with the participants and the trainer said no. I thought this was strange as I had also wanted to request the slides.

We were told that we could only use Home Office approved Communications when speaking about Prevent.

‘You do not need consent’ to refer people to Prevent 

One of the most shocking aspects of the training was that we were told we do not need consent for referrals to Prevent.

I was very shocked by this, because it is my understanding that you would generally require consent in all other safeguarding measures, especially from a responsible adult in the case of a child.

I found this very strange and concerning, especially when people may not even be aware that they have been referred to Prevent.

As if to soften the blow, we heard that Prevent referrals were always looked at “on a case by case basis” and that the VAF (Vulnerability Assessment Framework) is used to determine cases for Channel.

We were also told that the Channel Panels now have “a new questioning strategy so they can ask the right questions”.

Protest action leads to counter-extremism referrals

We were given the following statistics regarding Prevent referrals:

  • “Islamist threat” – ¾ of the caseload
  • “Extreme right wing” – ¼ of the caseload
  • “Left-wing, single issue anarchist”
  • “Northern Ireland terrorism”

I was particularly concerned by the third example “left-wing, single issue anarchist”, as it was vague and broad.

The example given under this category was legal protest action.

The trainer put up pictures of images and symbols we should look out for and I was shocked by the examples given to us. The examples were symbols of Black Lives Matter and Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

We were told that we should take photos if we saw these symbols and send them to Prevent, and that we should be the ‘’eyes and the ears of the community’’.

I was sitting there absolutely horrified by this. I thought this was very oppressive – as if I was being directed to be a spy, and it was wrong to care about other people.

‘Cost of living crisis’ a driver of extremism

We were provided with the following list of drivers of terrorism:

  • “Israel-Hamas conflict”
  • “Refugees”
  • “The cost of living crisis”
  • “Ukraine”

Firstly, I was troubled by the simplification of the current situation in Palestine. In my view it is not the “Israel-Hamas conflict” but Israel-Palestine, because it impacts Palestinian people.

Secondly, I was really shocked by the fact that refugees and the cost of living crisis were both defined as “drivers of extremism”.

The cost of living crisis also impacts everyone and makes everyone in the UK potential “extremists”.

The trainer also treated neurodiversity as suspect. We were told how neurodiverse people were “susceptible” to extremism, through games/gaming.

Whipping up the fear factor 

Everyone in the training was told that in the first two weeks post-October 7th, 2023, the calls to the anti-terror hotline quadrupled.

In relation to more recent events, we were also told how political divisions are triggered by elections – and that “49% of the world’s population are currently going through elections”.

We were also told about the Anti-Terror Hotline and instructed to use it if we notice any of the “emerging drivers of terrorism” above, or to “call if we suspect anything” happening.

We were told that the local threat profile was “ Islamist”, “far-right”, “self-initiated terrorism” and “online”, and that we are all responsible for “reducing permissive spaces”.

I felt like I was being brainwashed and asked to spy

I was absolutely horrified and shocked. The whole experience felt very oppressive and like we were being brainwashed.

I walked away thinking “this is essentially about making all community workers spies on the people we’re supposed to be helping”.

It’s also very divisive, because there are people who are already judgemental about these issues, and if they see the slightest thing they don’t like, they can just refer someone to Prevent!

In my view the government is not listening. What we need is public debates and more opportunities instead.

Read more Prevent Watch cases.

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