The government’s controversial preventing violent extremism programme is apparently to be dismantled.
According to a report in the Guardian on 14 July, the Home Office, in addition to carrying out a review of anti-terror powers relating to control orders, stop and search, surveillance and detention powers, is about to dismantle its Prevent Programme. This £60 million programme had been widely criticised by community groups, not least because it appeared to place the whole Muslim community under suspicion and conflated community development work with intelligence gathering.
In October 2009 the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) produced a report based on interviews with thirty-two people and a consultation with community workers involved in delivering the Prevent Progamme. It found that local authorities were receiving funding on the basis of the number of Muslims in their population, suggesting that the whole community was ‘suspect’; that funding decisions lacked transparency and accountability; that Prevent strategies could run counter to aspects of the community cohesion agenda; that those delivering Prevent were becoming increasingly wary of the expectations on them to provide the police with information on young Muslims and their religious and political opinions.
The Commons Select Committee which examined the Prevent Programme drew on evidence in the IRR’s report and concluded that ‘[Prevent’s] approach is contentious and is unlikely ever to be fully accepted by those it is most important to engage’.
It remains to be seen exactly what elements of counter-terrorism work on individuals ‘at risk of becoming radicalised’ will be retained after the government has implemented its review in January 2011 as part of the Home Office’s structural reform plan.
Download a copy of the IRR’s report: Spooked: how not to prevent violent extremism (pdf file, 1.2Mb)
Guardian (14 July 2010) ‘Ministers dismantle £60m programme to prevent violent extremism’