Coalition’s Prevent Strategy – Revised

Thu, 09 Jun 2011 16:20 in News Digest
Dialogue Society News Digest

Home Secretary Theresa May this week revealed the re-focused ‘PREVENT’ strand of the counter terrorism strategy whilst highlighting that there needs to be a stronger focus on tackling violent extremism at community levels. The counter-terrorism strategy ‘CONTEST’ comprises on four focus points;

  • Pursue - to stop terrorist attacks
  • Prevent- to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism
  • Protect- to strengthen our protection against terrorist attack
  • Prepare- where an attack cannot be stopped, to mitigate its impact.

The ‘CONTEST’ Strategy was first launched by the Labour Government in 2007, since, there has been some scepticism about the project delivering on its objectives.

Press Perspectives

BBC - Wednesday 8th June 2011

BBC - Wednesday 8th June 2011

Theresa May said to the House of Commons on Tuesday that the former ‘PREVENT’ strategy had failed to tackle the extremist ideology which "inspires would-be terrorists to seek to bring death and destruction to our towns and cities".

It was discussed that the £63m annual budget had been distributed to some extremist organisations instead of confronting them.

"In trying to reach out to those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.

"We will not make the same mistakes," she said.

The modified strategy will withdraw funding from extremist groups and will not support even non-violent organisations if they do not adhere to what the government calls "fundamental and universal" British values.

Birmingham, Leicester, Luton, Manchester, Leeds and some London boroughs will be amongst the 25 prioritised areas in Britain which will receive the £36m funding in the modified plan.

The Guardian – Thursday 9th June 2011

So, Prime Minister are we to call you an extremist now?

The Coalition’s ‘Prevent’ Strategy is formed on the so-called “conveyor belt” theory of radicalisation, an assertion that individuals turn to violence and terror after initial feelings of grievance. This theory tars non-violent Muslims as it follows the theory that individuals first start off with feelings of disillusion and anger, gradually developing into more religious and politicised thinking and finally turning into aggression and violent behaviour.

There are numerous studies to prove that violent extremism does not come to life via a linear model. In July 2010, a leaked memo prepared by officials for coalition ministers on the cabinet's home affairs subcommittee concluded that it was wrong "to regard radicalisation in this country as a linear 'conveyor belt' moving from grievance, through radicalisation, to violence … This thesis seems to both misread the radicalisation process and to give undue weight to ideological factors".

Fighting against extremism and terrorism requires a nuanced, less confrontational approach. Otherwise Prevent will be nothing more than a word.

The Telegraph – Tuesday 7th June 2011

Promote the right values and prevent extremism

The suicide bomb attacks in London on July 7, 2005, by four men born or raised in this country was a dawning realization that terrorism did not only come from beyond the borders but also from within. In response, the government developed a counterterrorism strategy to prevent the radicalisation in Britain. Millions of pounds were invested into over 1,200 projects.

Instead of repackaging an unsuccessful strategy, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, might have been better advised to consider whether it is worth retaining it at all. The approach adopted by the last Labour government and now by the Coalition risks failing to achieve anything while at the same time patronising both Muslims and the rest of the country. Extremism is best tackled by unapologetically challenging everything extremist groups stand for, not by throwing money at them.

Key Players

Lord Carlile of Berriew, the independent reviewer of Prevent, said: "Many Muslims and Muslim groups have stepped up to the plate and are able to do the work with government and local authorities to deal with radicalisation.

"Government does not need to have truck with extremists, and it won't."

Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison, the lead on the Prevent strategy for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said he had been "fully supportive of this government review".

"The effects of Prevent policing have not caused widespread damage or harm to relationships between Muslim communities and the police.

"Instead communities are increasingly taking the lead in challenging violent extremism," he said.

Moving Forward

New Measures were made last Tuesday on control orders bringing it a step closer to becoming law after the bill gained an unimpeded second reading.

T-Pims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) is the new regime which will enforce significant liberty restrictions on terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted or deported.