UK ministers 'at odds' over Prevent counter-extremism review

The report was finished in the summer but has yet to be released

Police at the scene of the Manchester Arena terror attack the morning after the incident in 2017. PA
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British Cabinet ministers are said to be locked in a row over a long-awaited review of Prevent, the government’s flagship counter-extremism programme.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, is reportedly at odds with Michael Gove, the Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on the terms of the document.

The report is understood to include heavy criticism of several organisations and the author seeks to showcase how groups funded by the government promoted extremism.

Ms Braverman is ready to publish the independent review of Prevent and accept recommendations, according to The Times. But Mr Gove, who is responsible for how the scheme will operate on the ground day-to-day, is said to be opposed to the Home Secretary’s decision not to publish the names of groups, stressing that this would not accurately reflect the state of extremism in Britain.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman on Wednesday declined to be drawn on claims there was a Cabinet split over the matter.

“The review will be published in due course,” he told reporters. “It’s right that we take time to prepare and deliver a considered response.

“We’ve always said Prevent remains a vital tool for early intervention and safeguarding.”

He refused to say whether the report would include the names of individual organisations.

The review was conducted by William Shawcross, the former chairman of the Charity Commission.

He is said to be “increasingly frustrated and annoyed” that the document he completed in the summer has still not been made public.

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

In the review, he will say “Prevent is not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism,” according to The Telegraph.

Draft extracts of the report released earlier this year reportedly revealed Prevent has come under fire for having “double standards” when it comes to right-wing and Islamist extremism.

The counter-terrorism policy came under renewed scrutiny after it was revealed the home-grown terrorist who murdered Sir David Amess, a Conservative MP, had been referred to the programme but continued to plot his attack in secret.

Prevent also featured in other recent cases, including that of Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah who murdered three men in a park, and Sudesh Amman, responsible for stabbings in Streatham, both in 2020, as well as the 2017 Parsons Green Tube train attacker Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan, among others.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood told The National the Prevent programme must bring mosques into greater focus if extremism is to be stamped out.

He said the policy “has got to be much more oriented towards the mainstream Muslim community.”

“The more we deal with smaller organisations the more difficult and isolated it becomes,” Mr Mahmood said. “Smaller organisations may do some very good work but they don’t have the spread.”

Updated: December 28, 2022, 3:07 PM