Prevent Watch

Middle East Eye: Data on children referred to Prevent could be held their entire lives

data on children referred to prevent

Information about children referred to Prevent could be held on databases for decades and potentially for the rest of their lives, digital rights campaigners have warned in a new report.

Middle East Eye reports that Open Rights Group has warned that thousands of children referred to Prevent over the past decade are at risk of being “marked for life” even in the vast majority of cases in which no action or intervention is deemed necessary.

Sophie Akram, programme manager at ORG, told Middle East Eye: “The prospect that people’s data could be held from when they were a child for the duration of their lifetime is disproportionate, considering no offence would have been committed and the behaviour in question is often so negligible that it might not even warrant an intervention.

“The implication is that we could hold a generation of children in permanent suspicion with no means of redress. Worse than criminalisation, all of these children could be impacted through potentially various facets of their lives because of one ill-thought through Prevent referral.”

The ORG report highlighted concerns about opaque data management processes in which details about Prevent referrals were being recorded not only in a national Prevent database but also in other police databases and others managed by local authorities and public bodies.

At least 13,845 children aged under 14 have been referred to Prevent since 2015, according to statistics published by the Home Office. According to the latest figures published in December, 256 children aged 10 or under and 2,628 aged 11 to 15 were referred between April 2022 and March 2023.

Layla Aitlhadj, director of Prevent Watch told MEE: “We have seen evidence of this in the casework and as Prevent Watch we only see the tip of the iceberg.

“The first case we saw was only a few days after October 7th of an autistic eight-year-old who was referred and even though the referral was admitted by all to be disproportionate. We have more than a dozen other cases directly related to Prevent referrals or threats of Prevent referrals in relation to pro-Palestinian activism.”

Read more on Middle East Eye.

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