PREVENT: Safeguarding or stereotyping? A review

On 8th May 2017 we held a very informative and lively debate on the pros and cons of the Government’s anti-terrorism strategy, PREVENT. The event was held at The Law Society’s Common Room where over 100 delegates took part in a balanced debate and heard from leading figures in this area: Rob Faure Walker, Mohamed Ashfaque, Basharat Ali and Nazir Afzal OBE.

Amongst the delegates were guests from Cage, Prevent Watch and The Home Office.

One side of the argument was that PREVENT, amongst other things was causing students to withdraw from political debate in schools and colleges and that it was putting students in fear of practicing their religion. There was concern that the ERG22+ report that underpins PREVENT was flawed in that it was developed in secrecy and that the data or science behind the findings is “classified”.

We saw the other side of the argument with a case study from KIKIT, a community PREVENT group in Birmingham, which showed how they help vulnerable people steer away from radicalisation and terrorism. It was a good example of how PREVENT can work. There were calls for everybody to work together and to be good neighbours.

Regardless of which side of the debate you were on, everybody agreed that it was in everybody’s interest to work together towards a safer community. Communication and transparency is key in building trust between the authorities who are tasked with safeguarding and the community.

Such was the success of the event and the positive feedback we received from the delegates and representatives of the groups that we are planning another PREVENT debate in the new year – so watch this space!

We would like to thank the speakers, Rob Faure Walker, Mohamed Ashfaque, Basharat Ali and Nazir Afzal OBE for their time and invaluable contributions on the night. We also wish to thank The Law Society for allowing us to use their premises.

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