6 spectacular takeaways from prevent watch’s 5pillars podcast

Here are six things you need to know about Prevent in a nutshell, from Prevent Watch’s latest podcast.


  1. There’s no evidence to prove Prevent’s “success” and we know it doesn’t work

When we ask Prevent experts for evidence that it works, one expert said that it is not possible to show that Prevent works.

On the other hand, we can show a lot of evidence that Prevent doesn’t work and in fact creates a toxic relationship between government and people, in particular young people.

It’s true that when something is involved in “pre-crime”, its success can’t be statistically quantified. But Prevent targets ideas and behaviour that are subjectively and politically framed as a “risk”.  

This not only causes normal evidence-gathering principles and assessment to crumble so that the policy itself has to justify itself, but it is also a violation of due process.

Even children are being referred to counterterrorism for expressing ideas and beliefs that are not criminal. Examples include the Fortnite case, the “cucumber” case, and the “terrorist house” case.

When these cases are publicised, Prevent experts have even denied that they were Prevent cases! This is how embarrassing the policy is, even to the people that promote it.

But it also means that the database is not reflecting the number of people who are being referred to Prevent for ideas and behaviour that is not criminal. Half of these referrals are children.


  1. The UK criminal justice system is robust enough to handle political violence

Prevent is not implemented in Northern Ireland, even though the situation would suggest that it should be.

Why wouldn’t Prevent be implemented in Northern Ireland? It can only be that the criminal justice system is enough to deal with threats of Irish political violence.

The same applies here; the criminal justice system is enough to deal with threats of violence by Muslims, for example, even though these threats are very low.

In fact, they are lower now because there is no large-scale bombing of Muslim countries currently; the threat tends to increase when this happens.

Prevent also does not deal with individuals who are coming back from overseas military training, for example, which would be construed as the biggest threat.

Prevent is more focussed on ideas and beliefs that are construed to be “indicators of extremism” from a political and highly subjective and anti-Islamic perspective.

It is also there to give a veneer of respectability to the cancelling of certain political or activist events, the no-platforming of certain speakers and other freedom of expression violations.

It’s certainly not “preventing terrorism” – we have seven terrorism convicts who were known to security services but not stopped.

So, this is a problem for which the security services must be held accountable. This is what the families of the Manchester bombing victims have stated.



  1. Some examples of why Prevent is a way to police belief

Statements made in favour of solidarity with Palestine, Kashmir, and any occupied land or statements about Muslims being oppressed are referred to Prevent.

If a statement is made about democracy being unsuitable in some aspect for governing, or even if something raises any challenge or questions it, they can be referred to Prevent.

Similarly, if a child makes a statement that homosexuality is wrong under Islam, then this is flagged under Prevent. This is even if the statement is not violent.

This is even when there is no evidence to suggest that individuals who have committed crimes made statements as children that homosexuality is wrong according to their beliefs.

Not wanting to participate in the nativity play or in Diwali celebrations for example or asking to not participate in mixed gender PE or music lessons for example, also can result in a Prevent referral.

We had a young man in secondary school who asked not to participate in mixed gender PE classes – even when there used to be separate gender classes – being referred to Prevent.

Young people are also aware of the “Prevent environment” in which we live. Muslim children know what they can and can’t say at school, and they will simply not say certain things.

This is the counter-productive nature of Prevent about which many significant individuals and organisations, including the UN, have expressed clearly. But to this, the government is silent.


  1. Prevent is a the tool of a new secular authoritarian aggression

Leaks from the government’s review state that Shawcross wants to “strengthen” Prevent and “increase the focus on Islamist threat”, even when this is not the biggest “threat” right now!

This, even when the UN rapporteurs and MPs have said that Prevent may in fact be increasing “radicalisation” and evidence shows it is not “preventing terrorism”.

If one looks at all the case evidence and how Prevent works, as well as other legislation and policy, Prevent appears as part of broader, more aggressive and authoritarian secular government.

All religions have a problem with individuals who are committing violent actions in the name of their religion or beliefs, but Muslims are “the biggest threat”, according to Shawcross.

In the way it works, Prevent is psychological control. It is about placing Muslims in a disempowered, apologetic position as a default. It is there to stop us from expressing ourselves.

The fact that Muslims don’t refuse or raise concerns about Prevent training – teachers, health care professionals – shows how it silences Muslims.

It even ensures we overcompensate and will co-operate unwillingly, but compliantly. This has a psychological effect on us and can affect our identities and even distance us from Islam.  

This is because the more you convince yourself to censure your beliefs, then the more “extreme” people seem when they do take a step towards Islam – such as wearing the hijab for example.

The fact that we only have 600 cases, and there are many, many more Prevent referrals, shows that it has a silencing effect by targeting normative Islamic belief and behaviour.


  1. Prevent’s new disguises and how to speak out

There is a lot of money to be made in the “Prevent space”, and schools are forced to adopt it currently through its misnomer link to safeguarding policy.  

We know Prevent is not safeguarding, but the reported move to now delink it from safeguarding, is not an admittance that Prevent is “not safeguarding” –

Rather it is part of a move to take Prevent away from the Local Authority control and place it directly in the hands of the Home Office and security services.

This will make the policy even more opaque and dangerous to inter-community relations, and it will make it more difficult to assert rights and ensure accountability.

We know that the Prevent Priority Areas (PPAs) have higher proportions of Muslims in them than other areas. We found this out through repeated FOIs.

This sets up a toxic dynamic where funding can be gathered when you run programmes that implement Prevent, in other words, when you report on state-defined “suspects” the community.

It also means that 3 out of 4 Muslims in the UK live in a PPA, an area that is getting large amounts of funding to implement Prevent, a thought- and belief-policing policy that targets normative Islam.

You can find out if you’re living in a PPA in our report, the People’s Review of Prevent. You can also contact Prevent Watch if you think you or your family are being targeted.  


  1. We do not need Prevent; we only need sound knowledge

We know what Prevent really is. An ex-Prevent expert was asked to share personal data on people even when they had not been referred.

To get funding for a policy that is seen as widely toxic and dangerous, organisations have had to repackage Prevent as “community cohesion”, but it is a surveillance policy directed at belief.

Prevent cannot be repackaged or “tweaked” or managed by the community itself. At its core, is not working to “prevent terrorism”. Prevent must go.

Signs that an organisation or programme is pushing Prevent are words such as “cohesion”, “counter-extremism”, “British values” and any terminology that is not normally used in the Islamic context.

It’s not a bad thing to meet someone who is pushing Prevent or representing Prevent in your area to voice your concerns or opposition to Prevent, but it’s good to document the process.

But case evidence shows clearly that Prevent is in conflict with Islamic concepts of human rights and justice, and it is traumatising children and families. It is also suspicion and spying on Muslims.

If a young man walks into a mosque and says he wants to go overseas and fight for the Muslims, then surely the community has the capability to address this Islamically.

There is an assumption that this doesn’t exist in the community. But it has always happened; people gather and learn in mosques, and learned Muslims are good moderators, as is Islam itself.

Now, the mosques, community centres and the entire education sector are becoming securitised through counter-extremism and Prevent; this is totally counter-productive.

“Counter-terrorism experts” talk about online “extremism”; this is happening because schools and mosques are securitised. They’ve created their own problem!


View the full 5 Pillars podcast at: https://5pillarsuk.com/2022/07/23/blood-brothers-84-prevent-and-the-uk-governments-targeting-of-muslim-school-children/


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