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PREVENT Must be Suspended and Reviewed


PREVENT digest is an independent not-for-profit organisation that has been gathering evidence on the impact of PREVENT since 2015. It joins calls for PREVENT to be suspended, pending a full and independent review of its impact on political, social and economic exclusion, particularly amongst Muslim communities. This review must be public and inform any future counter-terrorism policy.


This call is made for the following reasons:

Support for PREVENT is based on flawed evidence

  • The thinking that underlies PREVENT is as flawed and racist as early attempts to classify criminals by head shape.

  • PREVENT stifles debate, as attested by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

  • Ofsted school surveys on the implementation of PREVENT are unreliable as teachers and school leaders are compelled by the inspection framework to report that they are confident in their ability to tackle ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’.

  • The targeting of Far-Right groups does not obfuscate the harm done by PREVENT. As stated by the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, ‘The Prevent duty is inherently flawed, and expansion of a flawed program to cover more groups is by no means curative’.


PREVENT promotes violence

  • Lack of meaningful definitions for ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ result in PREVENT policing thought, undermining freedom of speech and making violent expression more likely.


PREVENT makes children less safe

  • The duty that PREVENT imposes on teachers to report signs of ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ results in trusted relationships with their pupils being undermined. This means that children are less likely to report safeguarding concerns, making them less safe.

  • The chilling effect that PREVENT has on classrooms limits some children’s access to the curriculum and undermines schools’ role in promoting a cohesive society. This leads to the marginalisation of some pupils and has a disproportionate impact on Muslim children. BME teachers are in a privileged position to understand these issues and their reported concerns should be considered by the Government in any review of PREVENT.


PREVENT is creating confusion in the NHS

  • PREVENT is creating confusion in mental health services and likely to be leading to interventions based on unconscious bias. It is also probable that PREVENT is undermining the trust between doctors and their patients and compromising the most vulnerable from receiving care.


PREVENT limits universities’ ability to promote democratic engagement

  • As has been explored by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, universities are a fundamental aspect of our democracy and the creation of bureaucracy in response to PREVENT is stifling critical voices that could otherwise promote non-violent democratic engagement.

  • The impact of PREVENT on procedures for ethical approval of academic research is limiting researchers’ ability to engage in data collection that could otherwise inform the Government on the functioning of PREVENT.


Foreign Policy has promoted violence

  • Recent acts of political violence have been perpetrated in response to foreign policy, this is supported by the Head of MI5’s evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry into the war in Iraq. Any meaningful development of Government policy to counter political violence in Britain must recognise this.

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