Prevent Watch

Revealed: Secret Vulnerability Support Hubs in the UK health sector

A secretive counter-terrorism police-led project called ‘Vulnerability Support Hubs’ in the British public health care system was exposed through this report by MedAct, essential reading for those concerned with the collision between counter-extremism and mental health – as well as the “psychologisation” of counter-extremism.

These hubs compel mental health professionals to collude with counter-terrorism police officers, and this report by MedAct (published in May 2021) calls attention to the acute ethical concerns associated with these ‘hubs’.

The conclusions of the report are based on documents obtained through a series of long-running Freedom of Information requests, and raise the following ethical concerns, among others:

  • the ‘hubs’ encourage health workers to ‘monitor’ patients, and help conduct ‘combined’ mental health and terrorism risk assessments;
  • assessments are substantially premised on dubious associations between mental health and terrorism;
  • a racialised Muslim is at least 23 times more likely to be referred to a mental health hub for ‘Islamism’ than a white British individual is for ‘Far Right extremism’;
  • counter-terrorism policing’s often spurious and highly racialised pre-crime security concerns may be improperly influencing medical treatment and implicating health workers in criminalisation;
  • the hubs use a ‘consultancy’ model which appears to allow police to circumvent confidentiality;
  • serious concerns about the deployment of medicine as a security device; and
  • other concerns around lack of transparency, accountability and scrutiny.

MedAct’s earlier report into False Positives also provides a broader picture into the impact of Prevent on trust in the public sector, in particular on the doctor-patient relationship.

The full report on the hubs is available HERE.

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