Prevent

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This article is part of the Counter-Terrorism Portal project of SpinWatch.

The PREVENT programme is the second strand of the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism strategy known as CONTEST. PREVENT was formerly known as Preventing Violent Extremism. It is managed and funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Foreign Office, the Police, the Home Office and its affiliates, such as the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism and the Research, Information and Communications Unit.

PREVENT has been awarded £140 million since its inception in 2006 till 2010-2011.[1]

The coalition government are currently reviewing the programme to see whether they will be dismantling it after a series of criticisms and condemnations from the Muslim community that PREVENT is a spying programme intent on collating intelligence on innocent Muslims because they are Muslim. [2][3]

Contents

Objectives

The objectives of PREVENT are to engage and work with Muslim communities to:[4]

  • Undermine extremist voices and ideologies so that mainstream voices can speak for the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful and law-abiding citizens
  • Disrupt those who promote violence as a methodology for change by strengthening moderate voices and their ability to counter the simplistic arguments and solutions to perceived and real grievances.
  • Work with law-enforcement agencies, communities and community leaders to help bring back individuals who may be showing signs of radicalisation and/or extremism through programmes such as the Channel Programme
  • Strengthen the Muslim community as a whole to counter the ideas and beliefs of extremists
  • Address the grievances that extremists may use to justify their arguments and actions, such as the Iraq war.

Prevent's two supporting objectives, which are not that well publicised are:

  • to develop supporting intelligence, analysis and information, and

Police Objectives

According to an ACPO Terrorism Allied Matters restricted document, the Police' role regarding the objectives of PREVENT are as follows:[6]

ACPO diagram showing the place of the following elements of the Prevent strategy: Rich Picture, Operation Delphinus, Operation Nicole, MAPPA, Channel Project [7]

Objective 1: Undermine Extremist Ideology

The Police aim to work toward undermining the extremist ideology and narrative so that the the pro-governmental narrative can have "greater prominence and credibility". They are trying to use this objective to "improve [their] knowledge of [Muslim] communities and how this community functions both in a social and religious context." The Police have made "considerable progress" in communicating with Muslim community groups, especially through "neighbourhood policing", which is supported by "Intelligence and Community Engagement". They aim to maximise "neighbourhood policing" for the purpose of "neighbourhood mapping", a process which includes "[c]ollecting a range of information about Muslim communities in order to enhance understanding of their needs and their dynamics to equip the police with the ability to target their activities and engagements more effectively.[8]

Objective 2: Disrupt Promoters of Violent Extremism

The Police aim to disrupt those that promote and advocate violent extremism, whilst strengthening those institutions that are vulnerable to being taken over and/or controlled by extremists. Universities and Schools are where a substantial element of work regarding this matter is carried out, in conjunction with partner institutions, such as the Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The Police aim to educate parents about what constitutes legal and illegal activity on the internet and aim to develop advice and guidance on internet usage related to violent extremism. They also aim to establish links with institutions such as Mosques, sports centres, youth clubs, gyms and bookshops to ensure that Muslim youth's are not recruited to the ideology of violent extremism. This is accompanied by work which is done in prisons The police share information and intelligence with the security services - MI5 and MI6 - and relevant governmental departments on "key individuals".[9]

Objective 3: Support Individuals that are Vulnerable to Radicalisation:

The Police aim to create "mechanisms" for supporting people they consider vulnerable to radicalisation "to see and follow positive and compelling alternatives to violent extremist activity." The Police aim to develop strong links with communities, local authorities, Youth Offending Teams, Schools and Colleges. One of the major mechanisms for Police interventions is the Channel Project, which "takes referrals from a number of sources on individuals of concern who are exhibiting behaviours indicating a vulnerability or identification with extremism ideologies ... A programme of intervention tailored to the needs of the individual is then developed and implemented with regular reviews of progress".[10]

Objective 4: Increase the Resilience of Communities to Resist Violent Extremists

Neighbourhood Policing teams aim to work within communities to help those communities build support and the resilience required to challenge the ideology of violent extremists. One of the reasons for the community mapping is to assist local police officers to identify 'at-risk' Muslim communities who should have activity focused around them. The police aim to provide help to vulnerable communities by establishing partnerships and sharing intelligence with vulnerable communities and vulnerable institutions.[11]

Objective 5: Effectively Address Grievances

The Police aim to train officers working within Muslim communities to understand, work and engage with them to ensure that their grievances can be addressed. This training will not only rely on specifically designed programmes but also on neighbourhood mapping. The Police also established the Operation Nicole excercise to allow the Muslim community to "engage in discussions about terrorism ... in a safe environment".[12]

Objective 6: Develop PREVENT related Intelligence, Analysis and Research

The police aim to develop intelligence, research and information so they can develop understanding about the factors that radicalise individuals.

The purpose of this objective is to ensure the police can establish mechanisms to ensure that intelligence on the Muslim community is acquired and a Rich Picture understanding is generated. This is subsequently used by the police to identify Muslims that need attention and require interventions.

The responsibility of developing community intelligence falls to Counter Terrorism Intelligence Officers, who aim to communicate with different elements/institutions in their command areas for the sake of raising “awareness of potential terrorist material [and] development of the Rich Picture. This intelligence assists the development of Operation Delphinus, the police operation which assigns different counter-terrorism tasks to local partners. [13]

Objective 7: Strategic Communications.

The police aim to ensure that their communications are inclusive and appropriate in a bid to reinforce the pro-governmental narrative, whilst simultaneously undermining the terrorist narrative. The police have developed good links with the governmental propaganda unit - the Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which is an offshoot of the OSCT and the Home Office. [14]

Uncertain Objectives

According to the 2008 Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund report published by the DCLG, the DCLG mapped a total of 261 PREVENT projects in 2007/08 for nine English regions and stated that that:

"Over two-fifths of all projects across England sought to challenge the violent extremist ideology/support mainstream voices (Objective 1) and develop understanding, analysis and evaluation (Objective 6)." [15]
Table 1: This graph shows the number of PVE Pathfinder Projects that were focused on either of the 7 objectives of Prevent[15]
According to the wording of the official British counter-terrorism Strategy - CONTEST, the purpose of Objective 6 is
"...to: develop supporting intelligence, analysis and information...".[16]

In the South West of England, all the projects that were carried out under the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund were categorised by the DCLG Report as assisting in the the delivery of "Objective 6" - collection of intelligence and information.[15]

Criticisms

  • In October 2009, The Guardian reported that PREVENT was being used "to gather intelligence" on Muslims individuals "political and religious views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information" even though they had never had any "involvement in terrorism".[3] The Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, "branded [PREVENT] as the biggest spying programme in Britain ... and an affront to civil liberties". [3]
“For the avoidance of doubt, surveillance is not part of the Prevent programme and intelligence gathering is not a feature of the Prevent programme. It does not say so in the strategy and does not say so in our guidance documents. What we have said is what you get.” [17]

According to the Institute of Race Relations, the problem with "the PREVENT programme, in effect, is that it constructs the Muslim population as a suspect community, fosters social divisions among Muslims themselves and between Muslims and others, encourages tokenism, facilitates violations of privacy and professional norms of confidentiality, discourages local democracy and is counter-productive in reducing the risk of political violence.[1]

Despite the criticisms that PREVENT has faced, the Quilliam Foundation has publicly supported the government's spying programme on innocent people and believed that it was "morally right to give law enforcement agencies the best chance of stopping terrorists before they strike".[3]

Funding

The following are the funding streams of Preventing Violent Extremism:

See Also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Arun Kundnani, Spooked: How Not to Prevent Violent Extremism Institute of Race Relations, October 2009, p.11, accessed 25.09.09
  2. Alan Travis, Ministers dismantle £60m programme to Prevent Violent Extremism, the Guardian, 16 July 2010, accessed 11.08.10
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Vikram Dodd, Government Anti-Terrorism Strategy Spies on Innocent, The Guardian 16 October 2009, accessed 25.09.09
  4. Preventing Violent Extremism: A Strategy for Delivery HM Government, Date unknown, accessed 25.11.09
  5. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism March 2009, HM Government, p.85, accessed 15.03.2010.
  6. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, accessed 12.08.10
  7. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, [hhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/35833660/ACPO-Police-Prevent-Strategy Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing], 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p. 11, accessed 12.08.10
  8. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.4, accessed 12.08.10
  9. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.5, accessed 12.08.10
  10. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.6, accessed 12.08.10
  11. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.6, accessed 12.08.10
  12. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.7, accessed 12.08.10
  13. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.8, accessed 12.08.10
  14. Association of Chief Police Officers (Terrorism Allied Matters) Business Area, Police PREVENT Strategy - Partners Briefing, 'Restricted', 27 March 2008, This document is a restricted document and is not meant to be circulated outside the Local Strategic Partnership meeting, Version 1.7, p.8, accessed 12.08.10
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Department of Communities and Local Government, Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund: Mapping of project activities 2007/2008, December 2008, p.47 accessed 17.03.10
  16. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government March 2009, p.14, accessed 17.03.10
  17. Question 371 by Andy Slaughter to Mr Charles Farr, Preventing Violent Extremism, Sixth Report of Session 2009-10, Communities and Local Government Committee, Ev.76, 19 January 2010, accessed 24.04.10
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