Interior Minister Suella Braverman is planning an urgent overhaul. Prevent after investigation found it treated potential terrorists as ‘victims’ and focused too much on right-wing extremism
- Interior Minister Suella Braverman plans to overhaul the Prevent program
- Insiders say reforming the counterterrorism program is a ‘key priority’ for her
- The push for reform comes months after a report said Preventing Terrorists Protected
Britain’s new home secretary is planning an ‘urgent review’ of the government’s counter-terrorism program after an investigation found potential terrorists were being treated as ‘victims’.
Suella Braverman said reforming the Prevent program, which aims to prevent individuals from becoming terrorists, is a “key priority for her in her first few months,” according to insiders.
Ms Braverman’s push for reform comes just months after a scathing report found that, under its current model, Prevent “protects terrorists, not the public”.
The assessment, which was commissioned three years ago but published over the summer, also warned that the program focuses disproportionately on far-right extremism and not on the “deadly threat of Islamism”.
While details of Ms Braverman’s reform plans were not readily available, a government source noted that “the Home Secretary takes the prevention of terrorism incredibly seriously”.
New Home Secretary Suella Braverman (pictured on Friday) is planning an ‘urgent review’ of the government’s counter-terrorism program after an investigation found potential terrorists were being treated as ‘victims’, sources say
The findings of the Prevent report have raised concerns within government, The Telegraph reported.
The official investigation concluded that Prevent, which was originally set up by Tony Blair, was no longer fulfilling its “core mission” of preventing people from becoming terrorists.
Instead, the program is supposed to “protect those targeted by Prevent from harm” instead of “protecting the public” from potential terrorists.
The assessment, written by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross, says Prevent must ‘return to its overriding purpose: to prevent individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’.
“Prevent is a crucial pillar of the UK’s counter-terrorism architecture, but it is increasingly seen as synonymous with safeguarding (i.e. the focus on protecting those targeted by Prevent from damage and consideration of their personal vulnerabilities).
The assessment, written by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross (pictured in 2011), says Prevent must ‘return to its overriding purpose of preventing individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’.
“Prevent too often bestows victim status on all who come in contact with it, confusing practitioners and managers as to the fundamental purpose of Prevent.”
The report also claims that some taxpayer funds distributed by Prevent are at risk of being given to groups that promote extremist views.
Mr Shawcross is said to have reviewed hundreds of millions of pounds of funding distributed by the scheme.
He alleged that Prevent “too often” put money into “generic” projects and, in some cases, risked the funds going to organizations that “fostered extremist narratives”.
He claimed internal research by Prevent ‘indicated that a prominent Conservative politician and government official was among the figures ‘associated with sympathetic far-right audiences and Brexit’.
In another example, he claimed officials involved in the program focused on right-wing extremism “beyond the actual threat it posed” to “try to push back against accusations” that the organizations were “stigmatizing minority communities”.
“The first objective of Prevent – to tackle the causes of radicalization and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism – is not sufficiently achieved”, adds Mr Shawcross. “Prevent is not doing enough to counter nonviolent Islamist extremism.”
He applauded the program’s current “duty of prevention”, which requires officials to prevent people from being attracted to extremism. He said homework “works well” and is “particularly effective in schools”.
He was also “strongly encouraged by the dedication and diligence” of the program’s current “early intervention” mechanism.
A Home Office spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘Prevention is a key tool in protecting against radicalisation. We will not allow extremists or terrorists to spread hatred or sow division, and Prevent provides crucial interventions that turn people away from dangerous ideologies.
“Prevent’s independent review will enable us to continue to improve our counter-terrorism response and prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. The report is being finalized.