William Shawcross named as independent reviewer of UK anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent

The former envoy previously supported victims of Qaddafi-funded IRA terrorism

William Shawcross said he will lead a robust and evidence-based examination of the UK's Prevent anti-radicalisation programme.
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The UK has appointed a new independent reviewer of its Prevent anti-radicalisation scheme.

William Shawcross will lead the review into the programme, which in the year to March 2020 saw Islamist extremist radicalisation referrals rise for the first time in four years.

Mr Shawcross was previously the UK's special representative for victims of IRA terrorism sponsored by former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

He was also the chair of the UK's aid watchdog, the Charity Commission, from 2012 to 2018.

The Prevent programme, which was launched to monitor potential terrorist activity in the UK, saw a 10 per cent increase in cases flagged to the authorities in the year to March 2020.

As the independent reviewer, Mr Shawcross will consider the strategy and delivery of the Prevent programme and make recommendations for the future.

"I am delighted to lead this important review to ensure that Britain has the most effective strategy possible for preventing people from becoming terrorists," he said.

"As independent reviewer, I look forward to assessing how Prevent works, what impact it has, and what further can be done to safeguard individuals from all forms of terrorist influence. I look forward to hearing from a wide range of voices, particularly those who have had experience of Prevent in practice.

"I intend to lead a robust and evidence-based examination of the programme, to help ensure that Britain has a clear and effective strategy to protect vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism."

Lords Minister Baroness Williams said it was vital the programme continues to improve.

"Prevent plays an essential role in stopping vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism and I am grateful to those who work tirelessly, including throughout the pandemic, to turn lives around and keep our communities safe," she said.

"It is important that this vital programme continues to improve and I look forward to seeing Mr Shawcross’s recommendations in due course."

The programme has been criticised after it was revealed the 2017 Parsons Green bomber in London, Ahmed Hassan, was being managed by the scheme at the time of his offence.

Muslim communities have also accused the scheme of being a government tool to spy on them.

In January 2019, the government announced the creation of the independent review of Prevent as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act.

Mr Shawcross’s appointment follows the previous Independent Reviewer, Lord Carlile, stepping down in December 2019.

It followed a legal challenge against his appointment by Rights Watch UK.

It had objected to Lord Carlile because in the past he had declared his strong support for the programme.

Prevent deals with all forms of terrorism, including Islamist and far-right extremism.

From 2012 to March 2020, almost 3,000 people have been taken on by Prevent’s voluntary and confidential Channel programme.

As part of Prevent, the Channel programme provides tailored support for a person vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

In the year ended March 31, 2020, there were 6,287 referrals to Prevent.

Of those referred to Prevent in 2019-2020, 1,487 (24 per cent) were referred over concerns related to Islamist radicalisation and 1,387 (22 per cent) were referred over concerns related to far-right extremism.