Prevent report: Programme must tackle 'non-violent' Islamic extremism
Government’s Prevent anti-terror programme is not doing enough to tackle ‘non-violent’ Islamist extremism with too much focus on right-wing terror, review warns
- Long-awaited official review of Prevent was first ordered by Priti Patel in 2019
- Government has accepted all 34 recommendations made in 188-page report
The Government’s flagship anti-terror programme is not doing enough to tackle ‘non-violent Islamist extremism’, a review found today.
The long-awaited report on the Prevent programme by former Charity Commission chair William Shawcross said officials had a ‘double standard when dealing with the Extreme Right-Wing and Islamism’.
The report, which was first ordered by former home secretary Priti Patel in 2019, suggested there was a need to tackle the ideology underpinning terrorism rather than violent acts themselves.
It said: ‘Challenging extremist ideology should not be limited to proscribed organisations but should also cover domestic extremists operating below the terrorism threshold who can create an environment conducive to terrorism.’
The long-awaited report on the Prevent programme by former Charity Commission chair William Shawcross said officials had a ‘double standard when dealing with the Extreme Right-Wing and Islamism’
The study added: ‘Prevent takes an expansive approach to the extreme right-wing, capturing a variety of influences that, at times, has been so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, right-wing leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation.
‘However, with Islamism, Prevent tends to take a much narrower approach centred around proscribed organisations, ignoring the contribution of non-violent Islamist narratives and networks to terrorism.
‘Prevent must ensure a consistent and evidence-based approach to setting its threshold and criteria, and ensure it does not overlook key non-violent radicalising influences.’
Mr Shawcross also found that too many resources were being focussed on right-wing terrorism rather its Islamist equivalent, which has been responsible for far more deadly attacks.
The Government has accepted all 34 recommendations made in the 188-page report.
Last year Ms Patel hinted at reforms amid a litany of concerns about how the deradicalisation programme was working after it emerged several terror attacks were carried out by extremists who had been referred to Prevent.
Among the terrorists who had been referred to Prevent was Ali Harbi Ali, who murdered veteran MP Sir David Amess in 2021
They include: homegrown terrorist Ali Harbi Ali who murdered veteran MP Sir David Amess in 2021; Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah who murdered three men in a park and Sudesh Amman, responsible for stabbings in Streatham, both in 2020; and the 2017 Parsons Green Tube train attacker Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan.
While Mr Shawcross praised the work of Prevent in stopping radicalisation, his report said: ‘All too often those who commit terrorist acts in this country have been previously referred to Prevent.
‘Prevent apparently failed to understand the danger in these cases and this review demonstrates how such failures might be avoided in the future.’
His recommendations include a closer relationship between MI5 and Prevent bosses to allow better consideration of the wider terrorism threat by those who run the scheme.
The Home Office said it would ‘overhaul’ Prevent in the fight against radicalisation and that the Home Secretary had ‘committed to delivering wholesale and rapid change’ across the programme.
Suella Braverman, who is expected to make a statement about the findings in the Commons later, said: ‘Prevent will now ensure it focuses on the key threat of Islamist terrorism.
‘As part of this more proportionate approach, we will also remain vigilant on emerging threats, including on the extreme right.
‘This independent review has identified areas where real reform is required. This includes a need for Prevent to better understand Islamist ideology, which underpins the predominant terrorist threat facing the UK.
‘I wholeheartedly accept all 34 recommendations and am committed to quickly delivering wholesale change to ensure we are taking every possible step to protect our country from the threat posed by terrorism.’
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