Prevent Watch

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The counter-terror chief wants help from sociologists. My findings? Britain must ditch its ruinous foreign policy

This week the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, Neil Basu, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, spoke candidly about the ineffectiveness of existing policy, particularly the Government’s Prevent programme, the strand of counterterrorism that aims to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Basu emphasised the need for counterterrorism to be underpinned by a broader policy agenda around “social inclusion” and called on sociologists and criminologist to help policy makers in identifying the underlying causes of terrorism. These are all welcome statements, perhaps suggesting some tentative steps in the right direction. However, what is really needed is not tinkering around the edges, but a radical policy shift. This will require along with it much greater recognition of how damaging the existing approach has been. Prevent is sold by its advocates as being based on safeguarding vulnerable people against the dangers of extremist ideologies, and this is how Basu describes its original intention, […]

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Counter-terror chief says policing alone cannot beat extremism

Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said the police and security services are no longer enough to win the fight against violent extremism, and the UK must instead improve community cohesion, social mobility and education. In his first major interview since taking up his post last year, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu told the Guardian that up to 80% of those who wanted to attack the UK were British-born or raised, which strongly indicated domestic social issues were among the root causes. Grievances held by people who were “malleable” to terrorist recruitment were highly dangerous, he said, calling for sociologists and criminologists to take a leading role in helping police tackle the problem. Basu, who is highly regarded in Whitehall, is seen as a potential next head of the Met. His comments are a significant break in tone, if not strategy, about how to combat terrorism and prevent […]

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Newspapers help to radicalise far right, says UK anti-terror chief

Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has said far-right terrorists are being radicalised by mainstream newspaper coverage, while also criticising the hypocrisy of outlets such as Mail Online, which uploaded the “manifesto” of the gunman in the Christchurch terror attack. Neil Basu, one of Britain’s top police officers, said it was ironic that while newspapers have repeatedly criticised the likes of Facebook and Google for hosting extremist content, sites including the Sun and the Mirror rushed to upload clips of footage filmed by the gunman as he attacked two mosques in New Zealand. Read more