Understanding the Prevent Strategy: on paper, in practice, in public perception
The Prevent Strategy, set up in 2006 and reviewed in 2011 and 2018, aims to prevent terrorism by targeting people who are deemed vulnerable to radicalisation and is an extremely contested arm of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. It.In a 2017 House of Commons debate James Berry, MP described the ‘two polar opposite views’ on Prevent: one that sees it as an essential and inviolable tool in the fight against terrorism; the other that criticizes its perceived targeting of Muslims and potential to erode rights to privacy and confidentiality. The conflict between these two interpretations is exacerbated by factors including the difficulty in defining radicalization and the lack of concrete information on Prevent referrals due to the confidential nature of its service. In addition, the claim that Prevent has a safeguarding function has been criticized due to a fear that it will lead to securitization of essential services such as health and social care. How is Prevent interacting with these concerns and challenges? Is it effective and fair and what steps can be taken to make it more so? Thought and discussion are needed to answer these questions.