Prevent Watch

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats: Five things we learned about Prevent

waltham forest liberal democrats prevent duty

The Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats recently held an event examining the Prevent Duty, which aims to safeguard people in Britain from being radicalised.

Prevent is one of the cornerstones of the UK government’s counterterrorism strategy, yet it has also been accused of impinging on the civil liberties of those affected by it.

The public event, held at the Great Hall in Leyton on 6 November, was chaired by human rights lawyer and former MEP Irina von Weise.

Our keynote speakers were Dr Layla Aitlhadj, a director and case worker at advocacy group Prevent Watch, and Professor John Holmwood, who has studied and written extensively on the impact of the Prevent Duty on communities, democracy and freedom of expression.

The pair are among the UK’s foremost experts on Prevent. They co-authored the UK’s largest study into Prevent, drawing on 600 case studies of adults and children investigated under the Duty. The report, called the People’s Review of Prevent, was published in 2022 and has been endorsed by human rights lawyers, experts and organisations.

Back in 2015, the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM) called for a boycott of Prevent, accusing the Labour-run Council and Conservative Government of treating the borough’s 70,000 Muslims as a “testing ground for Prevent programmes,” which they described as “toxic”.

In 2021, WFCOM were among the 550 organisations and individuals nationwide to announce they were refusing to co-operate with William Shawcross, who was appointed by the Home Secretary to carry out an ‘independent’ review into Prevent.

Shawcross had been described as having “a track record of hostility to Islam and Muslims”, and the alienating effect of his appointment was highlighted at the time by the Metropolitan police’s assistant commissioner for counter terrorism. However, the appointment was made regardless, and the report was finally published earlier this year.

Given the number of local people affected by Prevent, Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats wanted to better understand this policy, its efficacy and impact.

I attended the Great Hall event in my capacity of Chair of the local party, and found the event to be a hugely interesting and stimulating examination of this crucially important piece of government policy. Here’s what I learned…

Read more on the Walthamstow Forest Lib Dems site.

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