Prevent Watch

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Prevent is hindering environmental and anti-racism movements too, new research finds

Rights and Security International (RSI) has published a new report that starkly reveals the ways in which the government’s Prevent strategy hinders free speech and discourages non-violent political activism across the United Kingdom. New research shows that Prevent is creating a climate in which anti-racism, environmental justice and peace campaigners, among others, censor themselves. Community activists and political campaigners interviewed for the research reported feeling unable to debate political issues freely without fear of being referred to Prevent. Interviewees who do engage in nonviolent action described examples of being censored by state authorities, including by being denied public platforms to speak, having venues closed and being refused opportunities for funding. Such self-censorship and fears of outright government censorship were consistent across all participants, irrespective of whether they defined themselves as Muslim or non-Muslim. For example, a former teacher cited in the report argued ‘The significant reason for me stopping teaching […]

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Priti Patel urges MPs to back anti-protest laws

The Independent’s Jon Stone reports that Priti Patel has written to MPs urging them to back controversial anti-protest legislation after it was rejected by the House of Lords. Peers inflicted a string of defeats on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill last month after critics said some of its measures would effectively ban some non-violent protests. The mammoth bill was defeated over plans to give new powers to police to stop disruptive protests, and on a separate clause which would have imposed noise restrictions on demonstrations. Peers also torpedoed new powers that would make it illegal for protesters to lock themselves to things, and that would give police powers to stop and search those who they suspect of taking part in illegal protests. Labour’s Lord Hain had called the move “the biggest threat to the right to dissent and the right to protest in my lifetime”, while the Green […]

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Priti Patel has quietly been stuffing even more punitive anti-protest powers into the policing bill

Ian Dunt commented in IT News that the Home Secretary had been carving, without hyperbole or caveat, a piece of law which would sit more easily in a dictatorship than a democracy. The Government waited until the final stages of a bill’s legislative process and then suddenly proposed a series of amendments, leaving reporters and human rights groups very little time to raise the alarm. The mechanism she used is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which first went before the Commons in March for its initial debate, and is now being turned into something even more alarming in the House of Lords. The bill was already a stunningly draconian piece of legislation. One of its chief provisions was to allow police to impose severe restrictions on protests on the basis of noise. The Home Secretary’s provisions, he wrote, were “carte blanche for invasive police action against activists”. Source: […]

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It’s Time to Close Down the Police’s “Domestic Extremism” Databases

A European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in January, in a case brought by veteran peace campaigner John Catt, is extremely significant for the future of protest surveillance. For seven years John has argued that the decision by the police to retain extensive surveillance data about him on the secretive National Domestic Extremism Database was a violation of his privacy. The introduction of the Data Protection Act in 1998 provided UK citizens with some protections about how our personal data is gathered, retained and used. Exemptions, however, that were given to the police have allowed them to treat information gathered from surveillance on protesters with the same cavalier attitude we invariably witness from the so-called “facilitation” of their protests. Concerns about privacy have never featured highly in the police’s priorities. Read more