A 22 year old law student (DF) in possession of a single copy of an al-Qaeda magazine, refused to be recruited to Prevent. For this, police raided her home, and she was convicted of a terrorism offence.
When the magazine was discovered on DF’s USB, Prevent officers approached DF’s family home and sought to speak with her mother, and explained that they were concerned about her views based on four YouTube clips uploaded under an account that she controlled.
Initially, Prevent officers attempted to recruit DF as an advocate against “extremism”, through “community- led” projects. DF’s lawyers liaised with Prevent officers, who stated that authorities did not wish to prosecute her for possessing the videos.
DF’s solicitor advised her that Prevent was voluntary, and the Prevent officer in question would not be making contact anymore.
Al-Qaeda magazine turns to conviction
However, the same Prevent officer returned with a police officer and interpreter with a view to speak with DF’s mother, a common trend we have detected.
On arrival, the Prevent officer stated that because DF was perceived to be an “extremist”, they were worried about her influence on her younger brother, who is eleven years old.
Soon after this visit, DF was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, her home was raided and several items were seized, including a USB flash drive containing a copy of Al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine and several YouTube clips.
On 17 March 2015, it was held that DF had contravened section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Coercion is counter-productive
DF’s case reveals that even when there was no evidence of terrorist intent or criminal wrongdoing – a point supported by the fact that Prevent officers had initially wanted her to work on de-radicalisation projects at the community level – she was still prosecuted of a terrorism offence.
This case also illustrates that Prevent is being inappropriately used to collect intelligence on an individual, and if individual disagrees to being mentored or to working in partnership with Prevent, then the casecan escalate to a terrorism offence.
This is a wholly inappropriate way of stopping individuals from being radicalised, and is likely to have the opposite effect since it creates an impression that an individual has no choice but to engage Prevent, even when their is no criminal intent.
Such cases are very likely to create feelings of criminalisation and injustice by the targeted individual, and can reinforce and perpetuate a feeling of grievance and victimisation.