Prevent programme ‘lacking referrals from Muslim community’

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Source: The Guardian

A fraction of referrals to a key government anti-terror scheme are being made from within the Muslim community, leading to widespread distrust and threats of a national boycott, a report has found. Less than 10% of the referrals to the Prevent programme, a central plank of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, come from within the Muslim community, according to figures obtained by The Times.

The collapse in referrals means that the bulk of tip-offs are originating from public services, such as schools or doctors. This in turn is breeding distrust and disillusionment among some Muslim communities, it is claimed.

The Times says that data released by the National Police Chiefs Council has revealed that of the 3,288 referrals to Prevent in the first half of the year, just 280 – or 8.6% – came from within the Muslim community, or from family, friends and faith leaders. Nearly 2,200 referrals were made by public bodies outside policing, such as social services and the health or education sectors. The rest were said to have come from within prisons or from police investigations.

One north London faith group that represents tens of thousand of Muslims is said to have called for a boycott of Prevent, while Muslim leaders in east London have also raised concerns that the programme is spying on youngsters. Both campaigns have urged mosques and Muslim groups across the country to join the boycott.

Prevent, part of the government’s overall counter-terrorism strategy, Contest, is designed to help police and security agencies identify individuals and groups at risk of radicalisation from all groups, such as Islamist extremists or the far right.

Security minister John Hayes said: “Prevent is about protecting those who might be vulnerable to the poisonous and pernicious influence of radicalisation.

“The programme is already working with hundreds of mosques, faith groups and community organisations. This year we introduced the Prevent duty, which requires key bodies across the country – including local government, prisons and schools – to have due regard to preventing people from being drawn into terrorism.

“This is a job for all of us and we are continuing to work in partnership with communities of all faith backgrounds to challenge those who spread hatred and intolerance.

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