Our Expert Views

Rich, readable blogs from our experts who work among the community, in academia and research on new developments in Prevent and their real impact on people.

People's Review of Prevent

The People's Review of Prevent

The People’s Review of Prevent is an alternative review to the Government Shawcross Review.

This review provides a voice to the people most impacted by the Prevent Duty.
Prevent is described as ‘safeguarding’ children from harms. However, under Prevent, safeguarding is focused on protecting the wider public from children believed to be ‘risky’, rather than protecting children from harms.

Throughout our report we present case studies that show how real these harms can be and the distress they cause to children and their families and carers.

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Prevent in immigration will deepen state violence to migrant communities

Shawcross’s recommendation to apply to Prevent in immigration relies upon one flawed assumption among many that he makes in his review, and will further divide and destabilise UK society.

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Why the Prevent duty threatens long-term public security

The foundations of the Prevent duty are pre-crime in nature; it rests on an assumption that it is possible to ‘predict’ an individual’s susceptibility to be violent, even when that individual is a child.

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Latest Prevent statistics can direct us to the ‘alternative’

The latest Prevent statistics direct us to an answer that lies in following long-held practices that preserve trust and will allow better access to public services while restoring it to its rightful role.

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Parliament: How the Prevent strategy violates civil and human rights

This blog is about three main concerns about the Prevent strategy that are linked to civil liberties and human rights. It forms a summary of Prevent Watch’s recent presentation at Portcullis House. 

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The refusal by Shawcross to acknowledge critique of Prevent is a wake-up call

This blog deals with the harmful aspects of Prevent to which Shawcross admits when he describes it as “a state-run scheme to counter specific ideas, attitudes, and non-criminal behaviours”.

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The pressure-cooker effect: The harm of self-censorship on Palestine

From self-censorship to democratic disengagement, the real impact of Prevent on young people should be causing the government to reconsider Prevent – so, why are they only increasing the pressure?

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Pushing back against Prevent censorship in the context of Israel-Palestine

New Prevent guidelines for responsible authorities will be severely tested by the fallout from the military actions in Israel-Palestine.

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Shared concerns: Community security in Muslim and Gypsy communities

Increasing assaults on community  security in the UK include the use of Prevent on Muslims, providing interesting common ground with the new Policing Act and its impact on Gypsy communities.

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What we can expect from the Prevent strategy this academic year 

Here’s what students, staff and parents can expect this 2023-4 academic year after the Home Office accepted all of Shawcross’s recommendations. 

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How the Prevent strategy will target a child, but ignore the cause

Almost two years ago – a long time in the history of the Prevent strategy – I spoke to a mother who confided in me that her son was so distraught by a Prevent referral made by his school that he had told her he no longer wished to live. This is her story.

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Justice and the Prevent duty: a misnomer and near-impossibility

The notion of justice and the Prevent duty is non-existent and almost impossible for those it wrongfully targets and harms.

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How Prevent harmfully alters crucial trust dynamics in public services

The coupling of public services with Prevent alters the crucial and delicate trust dynamics essential to education and health.

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Out of sight out of mind? The harms of unrecorded Prevent referrals

When it comes to Prevent referrals, these three specific and unexceptional case examples illustrate the undocumented impact of Prevent.

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Counter extremism against civil society is having an unintended outcome

When global counter extremism means you can be an ‘extremist’ for political activity in another country, having to confront Prevent while fleeing for safety in the UK will ratchet up its injustice. But an unintended outcome persists.

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Prevent and immigration: Shared concerns of Islamophobia and racism

Shawcross’s recommendation on Prevent and immigration urges that the policy be extended into the immigration system and into job centres. But increasing their hostility is not the answer to a safe UK.

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UN concerns about children’s well-being urge the withdrawal of Prevent

A recent UN report into children’s well-being in the UK should urge the withdrawal of Prevent counter-extremism from health and education.

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UN concerns on children underline the abusive nature of Prevent 

Prevent Watch was among at least 3 UK based NGOs that submitted concerns about children’s rights which have featured in last month’s publication of a report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

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What ‘improved’ Prevent training really means

Shawcross sees a need for more ‘rigorous’ Prevent training, while it already violates various civil liberties including the freedom of religion, association and legal dissent.

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The serious harms of Prevent scrutiny on children

The Shawcross Review does not address the harms of Prevent scrutiny of children, and specifically Muslim children. Rather, its recommendations will accentuate them.

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Our response to the latest Prevent referral data concerns

Shawcross’s recommendation on Prevent referral data demonstrates his lack of knowledge about the situation that currently applies.

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What a Muslim civil society ‘register’ at the Home Office means

William Shawcross has attempted to smear Muslim civil society organisations in a report that seeks to position Muslims – especially those who work for positive change in communities at home and abroad – as suspects.

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How the Shawcross recommendations ignore the Manchester Arena Enquiry

The Shawcross recommendations to Prevent ignore the Manchester Arena Enquiry, and rather urge a greater securitisation of society that is harmful in the long term.

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The Shawcross Review of Prevent is a flagship for a new nationalism to haunt the UK

The Shawcross Review of Prevent urges far-reaching changes to the administrative organisation of Prevent, involving increased centralisation and direct control by the Home Office.

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How Shawcross argues for Prevent-led authoritarianism in schools

In ignoring the facts and arguing for Prevent-led authoritarianism in schools, Shawcross pushes aside the role of local authorities and the DfE in his review of the Prevent strategy.

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Why is Shawcross ignorant of ‘fundamental British values’ in schools?

The teaching of Fundamental British Values in schools is incorporated into the requirement of schools under Prevent, so why does Shawcross ignore its impact and meaning in his report?

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How the Manchester Arena Inquiry justly undermines Shawcross report

The Manchester Arena Inquiry undermines the Shawcross’s attempts to shunt Muslim-led civil society groups into the same frame as terrorism.

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Things to remember about the independent review of Prevent

We’re told that the independent review of Prevent led by William Shawcross is due soon, so here are a few important reminders.

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Multiculturalism and Prevent: Why ‘British values’ must not be a weapon

We assert the need for a new notion of “British values” that suits the universal character of our population in this excerpt from the People’s Review of Prevent.

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The Prevent strategy is out-of-step with the UK’s many communities of belonging

The Prevent strategy of the UK’s counter-extremism policy is out of step with the realities of British society, and its placing of religious communities of belonging under suspicion is counter-productive to genuine, long-term social stability.

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Why the Prevent strategy is not about preventing terrorism

An excerpt from the People’s Review of Prevent, on the Prevent strategy and children’s rights, data collection, bogus claims of ‘success’ and why Prevent must be delinked from Manchester.

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The low down on Prevent, data collection and children’s rights

The UK’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy involves data collection and retention that makes it a vast form of surveillance that can remain with a person for life, even when that person is a child.

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The Trojan Horse Affair and why government’s idea of ‘British Values’ is wrong

Following the Trojan Horse Affair in Birmingham and the collapse of the Department of Education’s attempt to ban teachers under claims that they had an Islamist agenda, the 2015 version of Prevent, the UK government’s counter extremism strategy, included a statutory duty on schools to promote ‘British values’. This became part of the national curriculum on the back of the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, a deeply problematic precursor to any notion of ‘British values’. During this event it was claimed that teachers at Park View School were guilty of ‘Islamicising’ the school. In fact, no charges of extremism were brought against teachers, and the cases against the senior leadership team collapsed due to an ‘abuse of process’ by lawyers acting for the Department of Education, including non-disclosure of relevant evidence. The Trojan Horse Affair demonised an outstanding Muslim-majority school and made it the means to justify the teaching of the […]

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RSE and Prevent – what parents are asking us

Recently, Prevent Watch spoke about Prevent to parents who had gathered to discuss changes in the school curriculum with regards RSE.

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The Prevent policy in the UK’s love-hate with the far-right

The claim to target the far-right was a red herring to bring Muslims on board with the Prevent policy in the UK. Now, the government is saying that to target the far-right would be to police “mainstream” views shared by many in government. What is going on? We discussed this with Surviving Society as part of their Legacies of the War on Terror podcast series. Our podcast included why the long-delayed William Shawcross Review of Prevent will recommend more focus on the Muslim community, despite recommendations from counter terrorism experts to keep focus on the “far-right” and “incels”. We also talked about some of the the far-right cases that we have seen at Prevent Watch among children, and how they could have been dealt with differently, avoiding trauma to children and families. The positioning of the far-right as part of “defending British values” is quite clearly supported by people like […]

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How Prevent counter-extremism enables the far-right agenda in government

Pro-Prevent lobby groups are currently arguing that the focus of Prevent should be redirected toward Islamism and away from the far-right, but is this just an excuse to play down their far-right agenda? The argument that Prevent is ‘failing’ and that it needs to refocus on so-called ‘Islamist extremism’ should be viewed in light of the ostensible justification of the ‘British values’ underlying Prevent. When ‘British values’ are linked to ‘national security’ The need to teach ‘British values’ as conceived by the government, frames the implementation of the Prevent pre-crime programme in schools. These values – on paper – are democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different religious faiths and beliefs. Their designation as ‘British’ is, of course, problematic. It implies that these ‘British values’ must be inculcated in ethnic minority citizens, yet we have seen that the claim is that most British Muslims share […]

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Expert View: How Prevent undermines democracy

JUMP TO: It is becoming widely accepted that Prevent undermines democracy, but on the other hand, it is true that government has a duty to ensure the security of its citizens. However, the balance between security and liberty is a difficult task and the subject of much debate. As we have shown in our People’s Review of Prevent – Prevent does not fulfil any role in keeping society safe, and in fact may have the opposite effect due to its tendency to undermine democracy. So much so that it is reasonable to state that it is guilty of the very accusations made of those who commit terror offences: attacking democracy. The strength and resilience of a democracy is found in how well it protects the rights of minorities. The current counter extremism strategy, we argue, divides us; it scapegoats British Muslims, encourages suspicion, damages community cohesion. Most importantly, it targets […]