Here are the most important developments in the Prevent strategy and essential takeaways for students, parents and staff for 2023/4.
I spoke to a mother who confided in me that her son was so distraught by a Prevent referral made at school that he no longer wished to live. This is her story.
The existence of the Prevent duty in the pre-crime space means access to justice is non-existent and almost impossible for those it harms.
Launch: A Response to the shawcross Report
London 21st March 2023 – We today publish an evidenced-based response to the Shawcross Report. Prevent experts Prof John Holmwood and Dr Layla Aitlhadj, authors of the People’s Review of Prevent, have detailed in a 85-page response on how the Shawcross report is flawed.
Some highlights from the report:
• endorsing ideologically led policy where Prevent is placed under the direct control of a politically-appointed ‘commissar’ within the Home Office, with no legal accountability or parliamentary oversight,
• proposing that Muslim-led civil society organisations are ‘extremist’ and ‘Islamist’ by virtue of their expression of Islam in the public sphere, and especially when challenging policy,
• supporting rhetorical claims about increased threats from ‘Islamist extremism’ that are not sustained by data available to the report from the Home Office,
• perpetuating further harms to children and vulnerable adults by going against the logical argument that follows from his own evidence: that Prevent is unnecessary in schools and in healthcare.
London 21st March 2023 – Over 200 civil society organisations, community leaders and professionals have in a joint statement called for the Shawcross report to be withdrawn.
Liberty, Amnesty International, Rights & Security International and Child Rights International Network and many more strongly criticise the review that was ideologically shaped, partial in its discussion of evidence and replete with errors. Implementing these recommendations increases issues of discrimination, free speech and child protection already inherent in Prevent.
Read the full statement here:
Launch: The People's Review of Prevent
Video: Report Launch
London 15th Feb 2022 – We are pleased to launch the People’s Review of Prevent, an alternative to the review conducted for the government by William Shawcross. Where Shawcross has dismissed criticisms of Prevent, we have worked over the past 6 months to provide a voice to those most impacted by Prevent.
Our report reviews the evidence about the operation of Prevent and the harms that it causes to individuals and communities. We show that Prevent is discriminatory in its impact on Muslim communities. It is directed primarily at children and young people who make up around half of all referrals. This includes children at nursery and primary schools.
Prevent is described as ‘safeguarding’ children from harms. However, under Prevent, safeguarding is focused on protecting the wider public from children believed to be ‘risky’, rather than protecting children from harms. Throughout our report we present case studies that show how real these harms can be and the distress they cause to children and their families and carers.
Our report shows that Prevent involves serious potential breaches of Children’s Rights and Human Rights. The government argues that terrorists operate with disregard for human rights and that the language of rights should be used against them, but it neglects its own breaches of human rights.
Prevent expands the frontiers of state power well past crime into that pre-criminal arena we used to call freedom. It leads to the stigmatisation of certain communities as suspect and even dangerous, regardless of how carefully they seek to stay within the law. Our culture, our society, are better than this, both more resilient and better able than is commonly supposed to draw upon cross-community solidarity.
Read the full foreword here >>
Data provided by this Report underscore the critical need to directly attend to deep concerns about discrimination, stigma, de facto criminalization of individuals particularly children, privacy violations, intrusion on the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs, and negative impact on the right to education, health, and participation in public affairs for targeted individuals, primarily Muslims. It highlights the need to address the role of professional bodies in securitized prevention — from teachers to social workers to medical staff— and opens a wider debate about the consequences of ‘pre-criminal’ regulation for the rights of the child.
Read the full foreword here >>