Stephen Lambert, Director of Education4Democracy.

IN DEFENCE OF PREVENT: WHY BRITAIN’S ANTI-RADICALISATION STRATEGY MUST BE REFORMED RATHER THAN SCRAPPED.

PREVENT, part of the Government’s annual £40m counter terrorism strategy, seeks to challenge the impact of extremism and radicalisation by ‘’encouraging debate’ in local communities, colleges, universities and schools.

It works through statutory community safety partnerships led by local councils. Each police force has a specially trained Prevent officer who liaises with community groups and other public bodies. All teachers, FE lecturers, social workers, doctors and councillors are being trained up to be on the lookout for signs of radical Islamic, far-right and extreme left-wing activity.

Since the rules came in four years ago there have been a number of appalling and tragic events leading to the loss of life and serious injuries on mainland Britain. The actions of Islamist extremists, motivated by hate, have brought carnage to both London and Manchester. Five months ago a ‘’lone actor’’ terrorist hit Westminster murdering an unarmed police officer. Last summer the anti-racism campaigner, Jo Cox MP, was murdered by a far-right white supremacist in her home town in the north of England. In 2013 the off-duty soldier Lee Rigby was killed by three jihadis in East London.

According to the counter-terrorism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, the UK is ‘’facing a shifting and increasing range of threats emanating from jihadist groups and individuals.’’ Islamic State or ‘Daesh’ remains the principal threat on British soil ‘’reinforced by the numbers of returned foreign terrorist fighters.’’ MI5, the internal security agency, estimates that 850 people seen as a potential security threat are known to have taken part in the Syrian conflict, with half thought to have returned to the UK.

The radical left believe that Prevent is damaging trust in society. The duty has charged government officials, teachers, health professionals and councillors with monitoring people’s political and religious views. It’s suggested that Prevent has eroded civil liberties, demonised Muslims and bolstered religious discrimination.

True, hate crimes against Muslims did soar by 70 per cent in 2011 to 2014. For Liam Byrne, who considered this in ‘Black Flag Down’ (2017), and former Conservative Cabinet Minister Sayeed Warsi, this has contributed to a climate of intimidation amongst some ethnic groups. Muslims constitute 5% of the population, yet Home Office figures show that 67% of those referred for suspected ‘radicalisation’ in 2014, were Muslim.

Civil libertarians maintain that Prevent is not making our citizens safer. Rather it’s fostering an atmosphere of insecurity while stoking up Islamophobia at a time when the far-right is on the rise both in the UK and across Europe. For Baroness Warsi some in the Asian community are seen as ‘’the enemy within’’.

But scrapping Prevent as part of the overall ‘Contest’ strategy is not the way forward. The stark reality is that Prevent, despite its imperfections, has helped to thwart the level of violent terrorism. Radical Islamism and the growth of the far-right threatens hard won freedoms, democratic values and institutions, liberty, the rule of law and national security.

Critics of Prevent have to been too quick to label it as some sort of spying operation. This is patently false. Britain is not a police state. It bears no resemblance to the totalitarian regimes of the former Warsaw Pact. Prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, one in 3 of the hard-line communist run East Germany’s population were Stasi informants spying on their own neighbours!

Prevent, contrary to popular belief, is a voluntary programme, requiring parental consent. It involves a range of agencies including Special Branch, local community partnerships such as Safe Newcastle, educational establishments, the fire service and youth offending teams. In most cases it’s implemented with sensitivity without alienating any section of the community. 99% of all Muslims in the UK are moderate, law abiding citizens who reject violence. Across our core cities, including Newcastle, peace vigils were held in response to the terror attacks.

As the shocking event at Manchester testifies terrorism is real. Most of it is home grown. It’s not imported from the EU. Andrew Parker, director-general of MI5, notes that more than 23,000 jihadi men and women, some in their teens, are being watched. 12 plots have been foiled in the last two years. The UK Government, Greater Manchester’s elected Mayor Andy Burnham and fair minded people across the country fully support the decision to increase the number of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ operatives by another 1,900.

Of-course strengthening surveillance is crucial. But the government need to take steps to better engage Muslim groups in anti-radicalisation measures delivered through a multi-agency approach. Indications are that the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd will ‘uplift’ Prevent to help shed its toxic image amongst some sections of the Asian community.

One important way to tackle potential radicalisation is through learning and training. The government’s Fundamental British Values programme is being delivered in every school and fe college in England and Wales promoting the principles which underpin our liberal democracy – respect, tolerance, the rule of law and equality.

Many experienced teachers and youth workers are prepared to challenge the reactionary ideas of ‘’youthful jihadi apologists’ or far-right supporters of ultra- nationalist groups like the BNP. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has urged that the Muslim community in other places needs to take ownership of the issue and engage more with the Prevent process.

The Prevent Agenda’s work on the ground needs reforming where appropriate, but not abandoned, if we’re to win the hearts and minds of Britain’s varied Muslim communities. Maintaining safe, secure and cohesive neighbourhoods in our cities and towns remains the top priority. Terrorism and violent extremism against vulnerable citizens must be crushed. The perpetrators of such horrific cowardly crimes must be brought to justice and punished.

Stephen Lambert, Director of Education4Democracy.

About Stephen Lambert: He is a Newcastle City Councillor, and was former Chair of ‘Safe Newcastle’ and Northumbria Police Authority.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Ahlan Safety commented on 5 ways to keep your Company safe 6 hours 29 minutes ago

Workplace health and safety is very important part for every business. I read these 5 steps, So I...

Ahlan Safety commented on 5 ways to keep your Company safe 6 hours 30 minutes ago

Workplace health and safety is very important part for every business. I read these 5 steps, So I...

I really enjoy to read this article. I want to...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page