Prevent Watch

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The House: The counter extremism problem and the Prevent policy

As human rights groups call for an overhaul of the government’s counter extremism policy, Prevent, what might we see in the Home Office’s long-awaited independent review? Laura Hutchinson, writing for The House – a cross-party publication reporting on Westminster – notes that the most common Prevent referral is under “extreme right wing” radicalisation (46 per cent), followed by concerns about those with a mixed, unstable, or unclear ideology (30 per cent), and Islamist radicalisation (22 per cent). Despite this, “Islamist terrorism”, she says, accounts for the majority of terrorism-related convictions, with 68 per cent of prisoners in custody for terrorism being Muslim. Hutchinson notes that “many Muslim groups raise concerns that Prevent leads to their communities being seen only through a security lens, and could lead to the policing of culturally conservative views or political opinions”. Source: The Problem With Prevent

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BBC: Home Secretary to crack down on ‘disruptive’ protests with new bill

Home Secretary Suella Braverman says the new Public Order Bill being put to MPs this week will stop demonstrators holding the public “to ransom”. But activists said they would not be intimidated by law changes aimed at “silencing non-violent people”. More than 350 Just Stop Oil protesters – demanding halts to all new oil and gas licences and consents – have been arrested in London since the start of October, according to Home Office figures. The new legislation – which will be put to MPs next week – will also see jail sentences of up to six months or unlimited fines for protesters accused of “locking-on” to people, objects or buildings. It would create a new criminal offence of interfering with infrastructure, which would carry sentences of up to 12 months in prison. In addition, police will be given new powers to take a more “proactive” approach to some protests. […]

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The Times: Prevent scheme criticised as vague and poorly targeted

The government’s flagship counter-extremism strategy is so vague that it results in thousands of unnecessary referrals by teachers and healthcare professionals, according to a new report. The original article in the Times is behind a paywall, however the report written by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is available in full. It highlights: Prevent is so vague that it results in thousands of unnecessary referrals by teachers and healthcare professionals. The categories of those who may be “vulnerable to extremism” cover a huge range of people unlikely to participate in terrorism. The “vulnerability indicators” described in the programme’s guidance are “vague and lack clear connections to violent radicalisation”. Source: Prevent scheme criticised as vague and poorly targeted | News | The Times

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The PROP Expert View: How Prevent impacts your beliefs and your mosque

Two crucial takeaways from the podcast between Prevent Watch’s Dr Layla Aitlhadj and Dilly Hussain from 5 Pillars that you may have missed: Prevent is a psychological control policy that is about placing its target group – in our case, Muslims – in a disempowered, apologetic position as a default, and it is counter-productive to the proper functioning of our mosques. It is there to stop people from expressing our perfectly legal and non-violent beliefs fully and freely, and to regulate Islamic learning. But Muslims need to protect their beliefs and their mosques, for more than just the sake of social activism. Because when you take on the Prevent “attitude”, you distance yourself from your Islamic identity and your beliefs can begin to change. Source: How Prevent impacts islamic beliefs and mosques – The People Review of Prevent

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The PROP Expert View: Changes to Prevent prove the policy is a political tool

There are many indications in the government’s restructuring of Prevent, that the policy is a political tool. The first is the refocusing of the Home Office on Prevent in its security aspects. The second is the new interim head of the CCE, Robin Simcox, who was appointed in March 2021. Simcox has strong links with neo-conservative and far-right think tanks. His first announcement was the need to redefine the policy toward right-wing extremism to distinguish far-right groups who operated within the law which, he claimed, were part of normal democratic politics. Thirdly, a recent report from Policy Exchange recommends that the role of the CCE should be “research into extremism, countering criticisms, and evaluating and providing certification for NGOs”. Expectedly, their only targeted organisations are Muslim NGOs. Source: Underplaying the far-right proves Prevent is political – The People’s Review of Prevent

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The PROP Expert View: What’s Sunak’s stats really show us

Sunak’s proposals to classify anyone who “vilifies” Britain as an “extremist” betray an ignorance regarding how counter-extremism harms innocent people. But a closer look at the stats reveal deeper truths. Statistics for the past year up to March this year from the Home Office state that of the 196 arrests for terrorist-related activity, 55 (28%) were subsequently charged for terrorism-related offences. Moreover, the number of white people arrested for terrorist activity increased from last year, and are four times higher than Asian people. So, when Sunak asserts that “80% of live counter terror investigations” are of “Islamists”, what we should be asking is: why are 80% of the terrorism investigations centred on Muslims when arrests of presumably British white people are four times higher? Source: Surely this is the last desperate attempt to revive prevent? – The People Review of Prevent

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The Guardian: Former counter-terrorism police chief attacks Sunak’s Prevent plans

Rishi Sunak’s proposals to strengthen the government’s anti-terrorism programme risk “straying into thought crimes” and are potentially damaging to national security, a former senior police chief has said. Such proposals would lead to more people being referred to Prevent by widening the definition of “extremism” to include those who “vilify” Britain, with Sunak pledging to focus on “rooting out those who are vocal in their hatred of our country”. But former counter-terrorism chief Sir Peter Fahy, who was also chief constable of Greater Manchester police, questioned the precise meaning of “vilification”. He said: “The widening of Prevent could damage its credibility and reputation. It makes it more about people’s thoughts and opinions.” Source: Former counter-terrorism police chief attacks Rishi Sunak’s Prevent plans | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian

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The PROP Expert View: Six spectacular takeaways from Prevent Watch’s 5Pillars podcast

Get the latest expert views from Prevent Watch’s senior caseworker and co-author of the PROP, including: There’s no evidence to prove Prevent’s “success” and we know it doesn’t work The UK criminal justice system is robust enough to handle political violence Some examples of why Prevent is a way to police belief Prevent is secular aggression to draw Muslims away from Islamic belief and behaviour Prevent’s new disguises and how to speak out We do not need Prevent; we only need sound knowledge Or you can view the full 5 Pillars podcast here. Source: 6 spectacular takeaways from prevent watch’s 5pillars podcast – The People Review of Prevent

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The PROP Expert View: How are we to make sense of Shawcross?

Leaks from the Shawcross review of Prevent say that “Prevent has failed”. Case-based evidence shows that Prevent is not directly involved in preventing terrorism. Rather, it addresses ideas and behaviours that are said to be “indicators” of “risk”. Because Prevent is an early intervention, there can be no evidence that it has successfully dissuaded anyone; indeed this is logically impossible to prove. Indeed, how can one measure “success” and “failure” when the programme itself targets people who are innocent in the law in the first place? Source: how are we to make sense of what shawcross is saying on prevent? – The People Review of Prevent