Research & Reports

Research & Reports

The following reports have been published, many with the support of Prevent Watch, by a number of organisations, highlighting different aspects of Prevent that make it a dangerous policy. We are currently compiling the People’s Review of Prevent, a report that will offer a more realistic view of the impact of the policy on Muslims and other targeted groups.

People’s Review of Prevent

We are pleased to launch the People’s Review of Prevent, an alternative to the review conducted for the government by William Shawcross. Where Shawcross has dismissed criticisms of Prevent, we have worked over the past 6 months to provide a voice to those most impacted by Prevent.

Racism, mental health and pre-crime policing the ethics of Vulnerability Support Hubs

Medact is a UK charity for global health, working on issues related to conflict, poverty and the environment.

This report exposes a secretive counterterrorism police-led mental health project called ‘Vulnerability Support Hubs’. Thousands of individuals suspected of potential ‘extremism’ – a vague and racialised term which the government itself has tried and failed to legally define – have been assessed by the hubs, in which mental health  professionals collude with counterterrorism police officers.

The Prevent Duty in UK higher education: Insightsfrom freedom of information requests

The British Journal of Politics and International Relations

Drawing upon 157 responses to Freedom of Information Requests sent to Higher Education Institutions across England, Scotland and Wales, this article explores how the Prevent Duty has been enacted within UK higher education. The article shows how the duty has seen considerable repositioning and restructuring across the sector, conflated counterterrorism with safeguarding and introduced further bureaucracy.

False Positives the Prevent counter-extremism policy in healthcare


The research and writing of this report were conducted across 18 months, the vast majority of which preceded the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK. For most of that time counter-terrorism sat alongside pandemic preparedness at the top of the government’s risk register.

Islam and Muslims on UK University Campuses: perceptions and challenges

SOAS University of London | Durham University | Coventry University | Lancaster University

This report offers the first cross-sector examination of how Muslims are viewed, treated and subjected to processes of inclusion and exclusion within UK universities; it also examines how Muslims themselves view life on UK campuses. It focuses on their experiences of university and on how they are viewed by non-Muslim students. 

Leaving the War on Terror

The Transnational Institute (TNI)

This report offers an account of the failures of current counter-terrorism policies, an analysis of the reasons why they do not work and an outline of a progressive alternative that we hope will be the basis for a future Labour government’s approach.

The Prevent strategy and the UK ‘war on terror’: embedding infrastructures of surveillance in Muslim communities


The Prevent policy was introduced in the UK in 2003 as part of an overall post 9/11 counter-terrorism approach (CONTEST), with the aim of preventing the radicalisation of individuals to terrorism. In 2015, the Prevent policy became a legal duty for public sector institutions, and as such, its reach has extended much deeper into society.

Blurred lines and false dichotomies: Integrating counterinsurgency into the UK’s domestic ‘war on error’

Liverpool John Moores University, Critical Social Policy

The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) seeks to pursue individuals involved in suspected terrorism (‘Pursue’) and seeks to minimise the risk of people becoming ‘future’ terrorists by employing policies and practices structured to pre-emptively incapacitate and socially exclude them(‘Prevent’).


Rob Faur Walker runs Prevent Digest ( – a monthly digest and commentary on The Prevent duty, ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’. Rob became interested counter-extremism when he saw the impact that new policy had on his students in the secondary school in East London where he was teaching. Since then, his work has used corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to demonstrate that the usage of ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’ has changed over the last decade, the words becoming conventionally synonymous with violence.

Rethinking Prevent: a case for an alternative approach

The Prevent strategy (and the harmsit causes in communities) is sustained by a logic of Islamophobia, racism and a reliance upon a ‘Good Muslim/Bad Muslim’ dichotomy. This expresses itself in an undue focus on British Muslim communities as collectively suspect, whereas the threat of far-right extremism isdownplayed. Moreover, attempts to instill ‘British values’ within institutions serve an ‘othering’ function which fracture social bonds between racialised minorities and their peers.

Dealing with PREVENT-related pressure

PREVENT is a reality on all of our campuses. It shapes much of our engagement with our institutions, in particular our ability to hold events and run campaigns. This briefing provides some guidance on how to deal with PREVENT infringing on our right to organise and being used to clamp down on events.

Counter-terrorism in the NHS – University of Warwick

On a home visit to a family, a healthcare professional noticed a child sitting in front of an Arabic televised news channel. There were also Arabic reading materials lying around. The family were reported to social care as a potential case of radicalisation. The case did not reach Channel.

Counter-terrorism and psychiatry

Predicting very rare events is extremely difficult. No tools have been developed that can reliably identify people who have been radicalised, who are at risk of radicalisation or who are likely to carry out a terrorist act. Assessment of risk is therefore best done on a case-by-case basis, as part of professional safeguarding practices.

The Experience of Muslim Students in 2017-18

80 per cent of ISoc president respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the Prevent duty has had a negative impact on their society, with some commenting a decline in membership due to concerns of surveillance by authorities.

The globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism policies

Our research suggests that the most problematic elements of CVE frameworks are indeed being transposed and adopted uncritically. Deeply flawed, problematic and controversial policies are being globalised, sanitised and presented as highly effective best practice and – despite the lack of evidence to support their global take-up – then backed with substantial amounts of funding and technical assistance.

Joint Committee on Human Rights

We repeat our previous call for an independent review of the Prevent policy in our report on Counter-Extremism; we consider any such review should include an assessment of the Prevent duty’s effectiveness in Higher Education and its impact on freedom of speech and association.

NUS: Preventing Prevent

An atmosphere thick with anxiety hangs over Muslim communities, whilst the chilling effect of Prevent is felt throughout academia and organising spaces alike. With Prevent, there is no space spared from the spectre of state surveillance. Under the guise of ‘countering extremism’, it has been embedded across society, spanning our nurseries, schools and colleges, through to GPs and prisons – seeping into the immigration system and even the home. Prevent emerged in, fed off, and in turn nourished an expansion in anti-Muslim racism to strengthen the state’s hand and amass more powers of repression.

“We are Completely Independent”

Over the past five years, the Home Office and a secretive government department called RICU, the Research, Information and Communications Unit, has been cultivating a network of ‘grass roots’ Muslim voices to promote ‘counter-narratives’ to combat the appeal of ‘extremist narratives’ among Britain’s young people. All of this is taking place with no public debate or oversight.

The ‘science’ of pre-crime: The secret ‘radicalisation’ study underpinning PREVENT

This CAGE report, details for the first time how the government produced these factors in secret, and subsequently relied on an evidence base that was not only unproven, but extended far beyond its original remit. Key among our findings, is the admission by those who wrote the study, that they did not factor political grievance into the modelling, a fact they say was, “perhaps an omission”.

Eroding Trust: The UK’s Prevent Counter-Extremism Strategy in Health and Education

Open Society Justice Initiative publication: The report concludes that the strategy creates a serious risk of human rights violations and is also counterproductive. It argues that its application in schools, colleges, and healthcare institutions is damaging trust: between teachers and students; between doctors and patients; and between the police and members of the UK’s Muslim community, whose support is an essential element of counterterrorism efforts.

Preventing Education

The Prevent strategy as currently structured and implemented is untenable. The strategy in this country’s schools needs to be abolished, and the government needs to reconsider how it approaches preventing terrorism.

The prevent strategy: a cradle to grave police-state

Prevent has now intruded so far into the affairs of the Muslim community that members of that community are virtually living under a police-state. From one’s early years GP, to the school one attends, to the mosque where one lies before burial, Prevent is now with a Muslim from beginning to end.

Prevent: Dividing communities and threatening civil liberties

Muslims are widely represented as a threat. Tis has led to a rising tide of racism. Prevent only reinforces this narrative. Hostility towards Muslims extends beyond Europe. The US presidential candidate, Donald Trump, wants to ban Muslims from entering the US. Islamophobic hate-crime is rising, particularly against Muslim women.