William Shawcross, the counter-terrorism report author of a controversial review into the Prevent strategy has been accused of failing to do his job properly because he attended only a handful of the thousands of meetings of its key deradicalisation programme.
Shawcross was appointed to review Prevent, the government’s counter-extremism programme, in January 2021. Last week his controversial conclusion that the programme had concentrated too much on the far right and not enough on Islamist extremism was met with widespread condemnation.
Now it has come to light that Shawcross attended only six of the review panels charged with examining the more extreme cases identified by Prevent. This more intensive support, known as Channel, is needed for the small proportion of individuals seen as being at greatest risk.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, almost 1,500 assessments for Channel took place. Critics say Shawcross’s attendance of such a small number of these raises fresh questions over how thorough the research was that led to his conclusions.
Layla Aitlhadj, the director and case study lead at Prevent Watch, said her organisation had examined hundreds of referrals for its report last year into the counter-terrorism programme. “We analysed 600 cases of people referred to the programme. Shawcross based his entire report on just six Channel cases.”
Following publication of Shawcross’s review, Britain’s former top counter-terrorism officer, Neil Basu, said parts of the government-backed report appeared to be inspired by rightwing ideology and were “insulting” to professionals fighting to tackle extremism.
Amnesty International dismissed the report as “riddled with biased thinking, errors and plain anti-Muslim prejudice”.
Aitlhadj added: “Light on research, poor on analysis and heavy on anti-Muslim bias, the Shawcross review failed in every regard.”
Shawcross made 34 recommendations, which were all accepted by the government.Read more: UK counter-terrorism report author accused of basing conclusions on ‘handful of cases’ – The Guardian Related resources
- The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2022)
- Shawcross Review a dangerous whitewash (News, 2023)
- Home Office challenged over ‘independence’ of Prevent Review (News, 2022)
- Browse our Resources archives for more academic studies on Prevent.