For anyone following the media stories about increasing concern over the ‘Prevent’ programme, a new report: ‘Spooked: How not to prevent violent extremism’ is a compelling read.

‘Prevent’ is another government initiative from the at-risk stable. It is meant to target those, particularly young people, who are deemed likely to become terrorists. The government gave out £140m of funding last year to local prevention and ‘de-radicalisation’ projects and, as the report points out, the funding is in direct proportion to the number of Muslims within a local authority area, rather than being based on any specific evidence of risk. Thus we are potentially seeing the creation of a new offence to rival ‘driving whilst Black’: that of ‘being Muslim whilst young’.

In return for funding, the youth workers, YOTs and voluntary orgs are asked to sign an Information Sharing Agreement in order to supply the police with information about participants in the various schemes – hence the accusation that this is nothing more than an intelligence-gathering exercise.

The report also points out:

The atmosphere promoted by Prevent is one in which to make radical criticisms of the government is to risk losing funding and facing isolation as an ‘extremist’, while those organisations which support the government are rewarded.This in turn undermines the kind of radical discussions of political issues that would need to occur if young people are to be won over and support for illegitimate political violence diminished.The current emphasis of Prevent on depoliticising young people and restricting radical dissent is actually counter-productive because it strengthens the hands of those who say democracy is pointless.

Go and read it, and pass the URL on to everyone you know because it’s a smashing piece of research that deserves a wide audience.


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