Date: April 2015
Case Study – DF
DF, a 22 year old law student, was found guilty of possessing a copy of Inspire magazine on her USB flash drive. 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 the account ‘east*****slima’, which she controlled. The PREVENT officers attempted to recruit her as an advocate against extremism in the context of community led projects. DF’s lawyers liaised with PREVENT officers and soon realised 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. However, the same PREVENT officer returned with a police officer and interpreter with a view to speak with the mother of DF. This is a common trend that PREVENT watch has detected in a number of different PREVENT cases. 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, however, 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 was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
DF’s case reveals that there was no evidence of terrorist intent or criminal wrongdoing; a point supported by the fact that PREVENT officers had wanted her to work on de-radicalisation projects at the community level, yet she was still prosecuted. Her case also illustrates that PREVENT is being inappropriately used to collect intelligence on an individual, and then the individual, if they disagree to being mentored or to working in partnership with PREVENT, is then prosecuted for terrorism offences. PREVENT watch believes that this is a wholly inappropriate way of stopping individuals from being radicalised, and is likely to have the completely opposite effect since it creates an impression that an individual has a choice to participate in PREVENT, but not consenting to do so leads to a terrorist prosecution. Such cases are very likely to create feelings of criminalisation and unfairness in the targeted individual, and their networks, and will reinforce and perpetuate a feeling of grievance and victimisation.