- Home Secretary Suella Braverman plans to overhaul the Prevent programme
- Insiders allege reforming the counter-terrorism scheme is a ‘key priority’ to her
- Reformation push comes months after a report said Prevent protected terrorists
The UK’s new Home Secretary is planning an ‘urgent overhaul’ of the Government’s counter-terrorism scheme after an inquiry revealed potential terrorists were being treated as ‘victims.’
Suella Braverman has said reforming the Prevent programme, which aims to stop individuals from becoming terrorists, is a ‘key priority for her within her first few months,’ insiders allege.
Ms Braverman’s push for reform comes just months after a scathing report found that under its current model Prevent is ‘protecting terrorists and not the public.’
The assessment, which was commissioned three years ago but released over summer, also cautioned the programme disproportionately focuses on far-right extremism and not the ‘lethal threat from Islamism.’
While the details of Ms Braverman’s reformation plans were not readily available, a Government source noted the ‘Home Secretary takes terrorism prevention incredibly seriously.’
The findings of the Prevent report have caused concern within the Government, The Telegraph reported.
The official inquiry concluded Prevent, which was originally established by Tony Blair, is no longer fulfilling its ‘core mission’ of stopping people from becoming terrorists.
Instead the programme is allegedly ‘protecting those referred into Prevent from harm’ instead of ‘protecting the public’ from potential terrorists.
The assessment, written by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross, argues Prevent must ‘return to its overarching objective: to stop individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.’
‘Prevent is a crucial pillar of the UK’s counter-terrorism architecture, yet it has increasingly come to be seen as synonymous with safeguarding (i.e. an emphasis on protecting those referred into Prevent from harm and addressing their personal vulnerabilities).
‘Prevent too often bestows a status of victimhood on all who come into contact with it, confusing practitioners and officials as to Prevent’s fundamental purpose.’
The report also claims some taxpayer funds being distributed by Prevent are at risk of being handed to groups that promote extremist views.
Mr Shawcross reportedly examined hundreds of millions of pounds of funding distributed by the programme.
He alleged Prevent was ‘too often’ putting money towards ‘generic’ projects and in some instances risked the funds going to organisations that ‘promoted extremist narratives.’
He claimed one piece of internal research at Prevent ‘listed a prominent Conservative politician and member of the Government as being among figures ‘associated with far-right sympathetic audiences, and Brexit.”
In another example he claimed officials involved with the programme are focusing on right-wing extremism ‘above and beyond the actual threat it posed’ to ‘try and fend off accusations’ that the organizations was ‘stigmatising minority communities’.
‘Prevent’s first objective – to tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism – is not being sufficiently met,’ Mr Shawcross aid. ‘Prevent is not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism.’
He did applaud he programme’s current ‘Prevent duty,’ which requires public officials to prevent people from being drawn to extremism. He said the duty ‘works well’ and is ‘especially effective in schools.’
He was also ‘greatly encouraged by the dedication and diligence’ of the programme’s current ‘early intervention’ mechanism.
A Home Office spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘Prevent is a vital tool for safeguarding against radicalisation. We will not allow extremists or terrorists to spread hate or sow division, and Prevent provides crucial interventions that divert people away from dangerous ideologies.
‘The Independent Review of Prevent will ensure we continue to improve our counter-terrorism response, and stop people from being drawn into terrorism. The report is currently being finalised.’News