UK Prevent programme 'not doing enough to counter extremism'

New report says scheme is treating potential terrorists as victims

epa06369453 (FILE) - British police on dutyl during a vigil for the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks by the City Hall in London, Britain, 05 June 2017, (reissued 05 December 2017). Media reports on 05 December 2017 state that the report by David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the British Home Secretary to audit internal MI5 and police reviews, is published on 05 December 2017. The terror attacks in 2017 - at Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Westminster - has placed the spotlight on the British security services. The British internal security service MI5 and police launched internal reviews following the atrocities between March and June 2017 and the findings of the reviews looking at intelligence handling by the organisations are to be seen in the review published by the  Home Secretary.  EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA *** Local Caption *** 53568746
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Britain's flagship anti-radicalisation programme has strayed from its core objective and is not doing enough to protect the public from terrorism, a new report will say.

William Shawcross, the former chairman of the Charity Commission, is set to release a damning verdict on the scheme, which he says needs urgent reform.

“Prevent must return to its overarching objective: to stop individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism", the report is expected to say.

“Prevent’s first objective — to tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism — is not being sufficiently met.

"Prevent is not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism."

He will also say Prevent is now treating people referred to the scheme as victims rather than “protecting the public” from potential terrorists, The Telegraph reported.

“Prevent is a crucial pillar of the UK’s counter-terrorism architecture, yet it has increasingly come to be seen as synonymous with safeguarding (i.e. an emphasis on protecting those referred into Prevent from harm and addressing their personal vulnerabilities).

“Prevent too often bestows a status of victimhood on all who come into contact with it, confusing practitioners and officials as to Prevent’s fundamental purpose.”

London, UK. Thursday 17th January 2013. Writer and broadcaster William Shawcross in conversation with Kofi Annan once Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) speaking at Cadogan Hall to promote his book: Interventions: A Life in War and Peace. This event was put on by The Spectator. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

He also warned that some organisations that have received taxpayer money from Prevent may be promoting Islamist extremism.

The report was originally commissioned three years ago when Priti Patel became the head of the UK's Home Office.

Newspaper reports also claimed that new Home Secretary Suella Braverman is looking to overhaul the scheme and has identified its reform as a priority early in her term.

A government source quoted by The Telegraph said Ms Braverman aims to conduct a review in the coming months.

“The home secretary takes terrorism prevention incredibly seriously and has been clear Prevent reform is a key priority for her within her first few months in the role," the insider said. "The Prevent Review will form part of her thinking around how Britain can stay one of the safest countries in the world.”

The Prevent policy was introduced by Tony Blair's government 2003 but was expanded after the attacks on the London transport network on July 7, 2005, in which 52 people were killed.

"The Home Secretary takes terrorism prevention incredibly seriously and has been clear Prevent reform is a key priority for her within her first few months in the role," a government source said.

"The Prevent review will form part of her thinking around how Britain can stay one of the safest countries in the world.”

Updated: September 25, 2022, 12:08 PM
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