Joint Statement in Response to the Shawcross Review of PREVENT

Statement published by A Community Counter to Prevent, of which Community Policy Forum is a coalition member.

The Prevent policy has failed. The government’s review, released today, clearly demonstrates this failure, yet continues to draw the wrong conclusions, doubling down on the most damaging aspects of the programme.

It is no wonder that Prevent has been widely condemned within and outside the UK by leading civil liberties groups, politicians, community groups, lawyers, and UN human rights experts. Despite allegations contained in the review, this criticism is legitimate and well-founded.

Since its inception, Prevent has been sold as a way of safeguarding children – almost half of people referred through the programme are under 18 – but the reality is the opposite. The policy centres policing and surveillance at the expense of children’s welfare. The reforms proposed by the review today go further, abandoning the pretence that Prevent is about protecting children. Instead, it treats those who are at risk or vulnerable not as victims, but as threats.

The suggestion that the Prevent duty “works well” and is “especially effective in schools” ignores the reality that of the people referred to Prevent, only one in ten are adopted as cases requiring a counter-terrorism response under Channel. The consequences for the 90 percent of children whose referrals are not adopted are real and often traumatic.

This is not a policy that is working, but one that forces hard working professionals who care deeply about the wellbeing of children to take part in a policy that causes harm. The fact that one-third of Prevent referrals since 2015 have come from the education sector highlights how the policy has deeply subverted the role of education workers.

Far from recognising the longstanding and well-evidenced criticism that Prevent is discriminatory and anti-democratic, the review recommends an even greater emphasis on those who are already most severely impacted,  particularly Muslims. The recommendations from the Review to extend the duty to other sectors will only further embed and legitimise discriminatory practices.

With this review, the government had the chance to take on board the undeniable evidence of the damaging impact of Prevent and to fundamentally reconsider the strategy, but this report has completely failed to do so.

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