4 The Prevent Strategy |
The Prevent Review
40. The revised Prevent Strategy was published in
June 2011. It has three objectives: challenging the ideology that
supports terrorism and those who promote it; protecting vulnerable
people; and supporting sectors and institutions where there are
risks of radicalisation.
Witnesses tended to broadly welcome the outcome of the Prevent
Review, favouring the clearer split between counter-terrorism
and counter-radicalisation work; the separation out of activity
between the Home Office, focusing on violent extremism and the
Department for Communities and Local Government, focusing on non-violent
extremism; and the fact that more care would be taken to ensure
that funding was not given to groups that opposed British values.
Nevertheless, some reservations about the strategy were raised
and some regarding its implementation. We explore each of these
41. On the whole, witnesses supported the outcome
of the Prevent Review. We too welcome many aspects of the new
Strategy, which appears to address some of the major criticisms
levelled at its predecessors.
Targeting resources proportionate
to the threat
42. As previously stated, the revised Prevent Strategy
is designed to address all forms of terrorism, whereas the original
focus of the strategy dealt only with Islamist terrorism and therefore
almost exclusively focused on Muslim communities. Resources are
to be allocated proportionate to the threat. To a certain extent
Prevent has already begun to address other threats; for example,
8% of those referred to the Government's Channel programme as
being potentially vulnerable to violent extremism were referred
owing to concerns around right-wing violent extremism.
However, some witnesses, and a number of participants in our conference,
disputed whether the Strategy and in particular its implementation
accurately reflected the threat, arguing in particular that the
threat from extreme right-wing terrorism is played down by the
43. The Government does not publish a threat level
for any non-Al Qa'ida or Northern Ireland-related forms of terrorism.
There is some disagreement as to whether there is a "terrorist"
threat from the extreme right-wing. In its most recent EU terrorist
threat assessment, Europol stated that:
Some incidents that occurred in 2010 could be classified
as right-wing extremism. These raised public order concerns, but
have not in any way endangered the political, constitutional,
economic or social structures of any of the Member States.
However, concern about extreme right-wing terrorism
grew in 2011 following the killing of 77 people in two terrorist
attacks in Norway in July 2011 by Anders Breivik, whose extreme
right-wing views were linked to Islamophobia.
44. The Community Security Trust and Board of Deputies
of British Jews jointly argued, in relation to the 17 right-wing
extremists currently serving prison sentences for acts of terrorism,
that their plots "involved the use of military explosives,
biological warfare and firearms, indicating a capability not hitherto
used by Islamist terrorism in the UK."
Mike Whine, their representative, added in oral evidence that
"one should not belittle the far right's capacity to engage
in really serious terrorism and, if you look within Europe generally,
then there have been even more serious cases."
Dr Goodwin suggested the focus on Muslim communities in the delivery
of Prevent had left a "noticeable gap":
I think even though far right parties and movements
like the EDL are not overtly violent in their ambitions to the
same extent that Al Qa'ida-inspired groups are, I would make a
case that this movement contains the potential for violence. It
gives its followers a specific set of narratives that under certain
conditions validate the use of violence.
45. Dr Goodwin further warned of the need to pay
closer attention to the interplay between different forms of extremism
and take more seriously:
The potential for a spiral of violence between different
forms of extremism. What I mean by that is something that we have
not seen since Northern Ireland, which is the potential for far
right extremisms to enact violence or confrontation against, for
example, an AQ-inspired group, to bomb a mosque or something of
that nature and then for that action to be retaliated. It wouldn't
really take too long for a spiral of violence to emerge.
This was reiterated by Professor Nigel Copsey, of
Teesside University, at our conference.
46. A view was expressed by some of those giving
evidence to us, and those to whom we spoke less formally, that
the revised Prevent Strategy only pays lip service to the threat
from extreme far-right terrorism. We accept that Prevent resources
should be allocated proportionately to the terrorist threat, and
that to an extent we must rely upon the intelligence and security
services to make this judgement. However, we received persuasive
evidence about the potential threat from extreme far-right terrorism.
The ease of travel and communications between countries in Europe
and the growth of far-right organisations, which appear to have
good communications with like-minded groups within Europe, suggest
that the current lack of firm evidence should not be a reason
for neglecting this area of risk. The Prevent Strategy should
outline more clearly the actions to be taken to tackle far right
radicalisation as well as explicitly acknowledge the potential
interplay between different forms of violent extremism, and the
potential for measures directed at far-right extremism to have
a consequential effect on Islamist extremism, and vice versa.
Supporting sectors and institutions
where there are risks of radicalisation
47. The Government argued in the Prevent Strategy
We accept that universities and colleges of further
education will need guidance, information and best practice to
address these issues ... But we are concerned that some universities
and colleges have failed to engage in Prevent.
Professor Neumann agreed that "universities
have been a little bit complacent ... in the past".
Universities UK acknowledged that "universities can and should
do more" and drew our attention to the recommendations contained
within their 2011 report, Freedom of speech on campus: rights
and responsibilities in UK universities, which have sought
to redress this. Professor Petts told us:
We are all very aware that, in an environment where
we have a very large cohort of young, potentially vulnerable people,
there is a threat, and we are very alert to that threat. We are
acutely aware of our responsibility to those young people ...
What this report has done is refocus institutions'
minds on how we deliver practically freedom of speech in an environment
that is safe and fair to all people.
48. On the basis of a survey undertaken by Universities
UK, Professor Petts considered that "the vast majority of
institutions" have "signed up wholeheartedly" to
the Prevent Strategy.
He gave some examples from his own institution, the University
We have a detailed process in place and we check
all organisations that wish to become engaged with our students,
and we draw a line. To give you an example, I believe that we
are one of the few universities in the country where, in the last
year, we actually said no on one occasion, and we engaged with
an organisation on another occasion to change the programme of
events to ensure that our students were not exposed to radical
In my own institution, we have a team of four individuals
who are responsible for ensuring that we have the right protocols
in place, that staff are aware of those protocols and that students
are aware of those protocols through the student charter, which
explains to students their responsibilities to each other and
the staff's responsibilities to them.
Universities UK contended that "selective media
reporting and reliance on an evidence base that frequently ignores
the positive work universities have undertaken in addressing this
issue ... has resulted in universities being disproportionately
targeted in the broader debate."
49. However, some university and student representatives
also expressed broader concerns about the role they were expected
to play. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies stated that
Gravely concerned over the impact the revised strategy
will have on freedom of expression on campuses across the UK.
All higher education stakeholders ... are obliged by Article 10
of the European Convention of Human Rights to allow the expression
of opinions as long as they do not compromise public safety.
The National Union of Students (NUS) expressed the
view of many students with whom we met in arguing that "universities
are one of the only places where [extremist] views and opinions
can be challenged effectively in open forums and debates."
At our conference, Dr Richard Hall cited Cardinal Newman's description
of universities as places of "collision of mind with mind".
However, a case study undertaken at City University by the Quilliam
Foundation found that, where students and academics had tried
to challenge the activities and views of the Islamic society,
they were subject to intimidation.
50. The NUS has produced guidance for student unions
which seeks to provide information and advice on their legal implications
as charities, the safety and welfare implications of visiting
speakers and how to manage associated risks of external speakers
speaking or presenting at events organised by the union. However,
NUS representative Pete Mercer was concerned that support from
the NUS was the only form of guidance available to students but
that the Union were not experts on extremism. More generally:
Our conversations with staff in institutions and
the HE sector indicate that they are unclear about what is expected
It is NUS' view that the government should provide
clearer guidance for the sector on what role they expect institutions
to play in the delivery of Prevent.
51. We accept that some universities may have
been complacent about their role, and, while we agree in principle
that universities are ideal places to confront extremist ideology,
we are not convinced that extremists on campus are always subject
to equal and robust challenge. We recommend that the Government
issue clearer guidance to universities about their expected role
in Prevent, following consultation with university and student
representative bodies. We would hope that college authorities
and student bodies will recognise that individuals or groups expressing
hatred against any particular race or nationality is simply not
acceptable on a British campus, and certainly needs to be challenged
52. We further recommend that, a designated contact
point with relevant expertise within Government is provided to
student unions and university administrators to assist them in
making difficult decisions about speakers on campus.
53. The Home Office launched a Counter-Terrorism
Internet Referral Unit in 2010 to investigate internet-based content
which might be illegal under UK law and take appropriate action
against it, although Sir Norman Bettison described it as "a
pebble thrown into the World Wide Web ocean".
It had received 2,025 referrals thus far, about 10% of which led
to websites or web pages being taken down. Sir Norman believed
that the referral site needed greater publicity which would in
turn require greater capacity: at the time of our inquiry it consisted
of around a dozen officers. 
Charles Farr told us:
Every internet service provider (ISP) has acceptable
behaviour codes for use on their systems. So having that conversation,
even where the website is operating in a broadly legal space,
is not unusual for them. Governments all around the world have
those conversations with ISPs every day, and the public will very
often make their own representations to ISPs about particularly
unacceptable content that may still be legal on websites around
He later clarified that Governments would only make
representations if websites were breaching the law.
54. Under the Terrorism Act 2006, if a law enforcement
agency approached a hosting provider in respect of the Act's provisions
regarding liability for hosting terrorist content, they would
be compelled to take it down and if an internet service provider
failed to remove the content upon receipt of a valid notice under
section 3 of the Act, it would be committing an offence.
The Internet Service Providers' Association argued that:
When section 3 notices of the Act are invoked to
remove material then there is no issue; when they're not invoked
it becomes more problematic. As in other areas, ISPs are not best
placed to determine what constitutes violent extremism and where
the line should be drawn. This is particularly true of a sensitive
area like radicalisation, with differing views on what may constitute
55. Professor Neumann, who co-authored Countering
Online Radicalisation for the International Center for Radicalisation
in 2009, told us that the Government had implemented a number
of their recommendations:
One of our recommendations was to bring strategic
prosecutionsnot necessarily taking down websites but to
prosecute the people who are producing the content for the websites.
That has happened, to some extent. There is also a mechanism that
the Government have introduced for deciding what kind of content
should be taken down and that has also been done. Most importantly,
we believe that there is no technical solution to this problem
and that this problem needs to be addressed differently, and the
Government have followed us there.
However, he considered that more remained to be done:
The most profitable way for any Government to address
this problem is to bring political pressure, in some cases, to
bear on internet providers-big internet companies who are hosting
extremist videos in places like YouTube, Google, Facebook ...
They do that to some extent but they could do it more consistently.
I believe that, for example, all the measures that have been taken
by YouTube to clean up its act have always been in response to
political pressure, both from the United States and the United
This is not about freedom of speech. All these websites,
whether it is YouTube or Facebook, have their own rules. They
have acceptable behaviours. They all say, "We are against
hate speech" and they are very effective in removing sexual
content or copyright content. Why can they not be equally effective
at removing, for example, extremist Islamist or extremist right-wing
content? Primarily, I believe it is because it is not in their
commercial interest and that is why it is so important that politicians
and Governments bring political pressure to bear. 
The Internet Service Providers' Association argued
that it would be "impractical" for ISPs to be expected
to proactively monitor material, given the sheer volume of content
online, as well as undesirable, given the implications for freedom
56. Assistant Chief Constable John Wright, the National
Prevent Coordinator for the police, added that there was a need
for greater international cooperation, given that most of the
websites are hosted outside the UK's jurisdiction.
The Internet Service Providers' Association confirmed that if
material was hosted outside of the UK, a UK intermediary would
be unable to remove it. They agreed that "to improve this,
greater international cooperation could be explored, although
what constitutes violent extremist under the law in one country
is not necessarily the same elsewhere."
57. Given the impossibility of comprehensively controlling
the internet, it is necessary to employ other methods to tackle
the issue. Alyas Karmani argued:
If you are thinking about banning the internet, you
have just got to provide a counter-narrative. That is what we
do at STREET, so what we do is we identify their narrative and
then you have to put an equally effective counter-narrative, because
if you ban one site, 10 others emerge, and the sophistication
of various ideologues in terms of promoting on the internet and
through social media is highly proficient.
The Government has been attempting to counter terrorist
ideology, this work being led by the Research, Information and
Communications Unit at the Home Office; however, Charles Farr
Getting that message across ... to a group of people
who would rarely read the media that we would normally work with,
is very challenging.
The Government's focus will be on "increasing
the confidence of civil society activists to challenge online
extremist material effectively and to provide credible alternatives."
58. Jamie Bartlett was also concerned that children
were not developing the skills that would enable them to sift
critically material on the internet:
A lot of the information that looks very trustworthy
and accurateand people tend to go on aesthetics of websitesis
absolutely bogus but we are not taught this in schools because
it has happened so quickly. People are not being taught in school
how to critically evaluate internet-based content and I think
that is one of the biggest weaknesses that we face at the moment.
59. The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit
does limited but valuable work in challenging internet service
providers to remove violent extremist material where it contravenes
the law. We suggest that the Government work with internet service
providers in the UK to develop a Code of Conduct committing them
to removing violent extremist material, as defined for the purposes
of section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Many relevant websites
are hosted abroad: the Government should also therefore strive
towards greater international cooperation to tackle this issue.
60. Given the impossibility of completely ridding
the internet of violent extremist material, it is important to
support defences against it. We support the Government's approach
to empowering civil society groups to counter extremist ideology
online. The whole area of communications technology and social
networking is complex and extremely fast-moving. A form of interaction
that is commonly used by thousands or even millions of people
at one point in time may only have been developed a matter of
months or even weeks earlier. It follows that legislation and
regulation struggle to keep up and can provide a blunt instrument
at best. Leaders in fields such as education, the law and Parliament
also need to be involved. Evidence taken by this committee in
regard to the riots in London last August showed that some police
forces have identified social networks as providing both challenges
and opportunities, with the message from one chief constable that
the police recognised that 'we need to be engaged'. In respect
of terrorism, as in respect of organised crime, the Government
should seek to build on the partnership approach to prevention
that has proved successful in the field of child abuse and child
61. As well as recommending more staff training to
recognise the signs of radicalisation and cautioning against an
over-reliance on imams, Professor Neumann's study of radicalisation
and de-radicalisation in prisons concluded that "there exists
no systematic programme" in the UK for the de-radicalisation
of prisoners and that prison services should be "more ambitious
in promoting positive influences inside prison", and develop
"more innovative approaches to facilitate prisoners' transition
back into mainstream society."
When asked about progress to implement these recommendations,
Richard Pickering, of the National Offender Management Service,
I have discussed Peter Neumann's book with him and
that was right at its time ... since 2009/10 when he was doing
the background work for this and since 2010 when it was published,
we have made significant advances, not least in the areas of training
and of interventions.
Professor Neumann agreed that a lot of his recommendations
were being implemented and that NOMS had "got the emphasis
right" in focusing on staff training, aftercare for prisoners
and providing mainstream-based services.
62. We heard, both in evidence from the National
Offender Management Service and also during our visit to Belmarsh,
that systems were in place to gather intelligence and thereby
identify at-risk prisoners.
Staff appeared to be well briefed on the issues and there was
an evident focus on the Decency Agenda, so as not to exacerbate
prisoners' potential sense of grievance. However, Alyas Karmani
considered that practice varied across the estate; some prisons
welcomed the support that could be provided by expert organisations,
whereas in other institutions "doors are completely closed,
with a lack of awareness".
Some of the Muslim prisoners with whom we spoke also felt stereotyped
by prison staff.
63. Ten terrorist or terrorism-related prisoners
were discharged between January and June 2011; the numbers of
non-terrorist prisoners leaving prison having been radicalised
are unknown. The aftercare provided for these prisoners is very
important. Ali Soufan, whose organisation has carried out a comparative
study of initiatives to counter radicalisation, considered that
the involvement of families and the wider community in rehabilitation
was the key to successful aftercare.
Given this, it may be unhelpful for offenders to be moved into
hostels far from their families, which we heard has happened with
some Belmarsh inmates. At our conference it was suggested that
when inmates are released back into the community there is a lack
of resettlement projects or community-led projects that would
provide them with the necessary support.
However, Ahtsham Ali, Muslim Advisor to the National Offender
Management Service, said that probation officers often asked him
for assistance in signposting individuals to mosques who can help
them with family reintegration; there are also various Muslim
community organisations who provide this support.
The Community Chaplain programme also works alongside prisoners
in their transition to the community.
64. One further issue that was highlighted to us
during our visit to Belmarsh concerned the sharing of information.
Prison authorities share information about prisoners who have
been potentially vulnerable to radicalising influences with police
officers embedded in the prison and multi-agency public protection
partners upon release but receive little information back.
We were told that, at Belmarsh at least, the prison authorities
would find it helpful to receive feedback about what happens to
these inmates after their release, to add to their understanding
of prison radicalisation. When we raised this in evidence with
Charles Farr, he agreed that this should happen.
The Governor of Belmarsh, Phil Wragg, noted a few intelligence
breakdowns between different agenciesand told us that they
had no links at all with the UK Border Agency.
He advocated development of a portal which would allow all the
relevant agencies to share intelligence more quickly.
65. Good aftercare is critical to ensuring that
prisoners who may have been vulnerable to violent extremist ideology
in prison can make the transition safely into the community, and
family involvement is critical to good aftercare. We are concerned
that The National Offender Management Service has not paid more
attention to ensuring that conditions of release do not unnecessarily
restrict family contact and indeed actively encourage positive
family support and engagement. Where there is a tendency for a
family to reject the offender it can be important for the mosque
to encourage the family to provide support and engagement. We
are not convinced that the work of the chaplaincy in facilitating
the transition from prison to the home community is as effective
as it needs to be, although we were impressed with the hopes and
aspirations which were described to us by the Imams we met and
it is clear that there are serious moves within the Muslim community
to create the necessary structures and arrangements.. We recommend
that this is always taken into account. We also heard conflicting
evidence about the level of support available in the community
and recommend that resources are prioritised towards closing any
66. The National Offender Management Service must
be an equal participant in the Prevent strategy, alongside other
agencies. We are very concerned that prison authorities are not
receiving feedback about prisoners vulnerable to radicalisation
after their release. Such information would be critical to improving
understanding of prison radicalisation and prison processes for
monitoring and dealing with it. We recommend that the Government
should a) implement a system whereby this information is fed back
into prisons and b) develop a portal that would allow the relevant
agencies dealing with prisoner intelligence, including the UK
Border Agency, to share data more quickly and easily.
Supporting vulnerable people
67. The Government has used, and will continue to
use with some adaptations, the Channel programme as a means to
identify and support people at risk of radicalisation. Identifications
are made against a range of possible indicators, including expressed
support for violence and terrorism; possession of violent extremist
literature; attempts to access or contribute to websites; possession
of material regarding weapons; and possession of literature regarding
military training, skills and techniques. Some 1,120 people were
referred to the Channel programme between April 2007 and the end
of December 2010. The majority of referrals were made by education
partners, the police and youth offending services.
Both coordination of the Channel programme by the police and Channel
interventions themselves are funded by the Office for Security
68. Several community-based Channel providers have
lost funding since the new Prevent Strategy was published, including
STREET, who gave evidence to us. There was some speculation in
the media that this was as a result of the Government withdrawing
funding from extremist groups but, according to Charles Farr,
while this has sometimes been the case, organisations have also
lost funding because they were not providing value for money.
69. Maajid Nawazwhose organisation also lost
fundingwas concerned that there was insufficient capacity
on the ground to deliver counter-radicalisation programmes and
queried how the strategy would be implemented.
This was supported by what we heard anecdotally. Charles Farr,
however, told us that only a "small number" of groups
have had their funding withdrawn and that he was "completely
confident" that other organisations would be available to
take their place. He later confirmed that Home Office had withdrawn
Prevent funding from 9 of the 17 organisations that provided support
to individuals at risk of radicalisation.
70. Jamie Bartlett recognised there had been problems
in the past with local authorities lacking the right information
to make judicious decisions about which groups to fund, but cautioned
If it comes to a situation where groups that are
doing very good and documented work in preventing terrorist activity
are accused of being extremists, for whatever reasons and from
whoever, and that money is then withdrawn, that could be a problem
Maajid Nawaz noted that the new Prevent strategy
does not contain criteria as to who should be engaged
and the Henry Jackson Society recommended that the Office for
Security and Counter-Terrorism should "circulate centralised
criteria to all Prevent partners for identifying group's whose
ideology, trustees, senior members or previous speaker record
would disqualify it from engagement."
71. Jamie Bartlett considered that the best way to
defeat non-violent extremism was "probably funding projects
that are not about extremism, that bring communities together
for completely unrelated reasons to extremism".
Both in formal evidence and in informal conversations, those involved
in the delivery of Channel agreed that the best way to engage
with young people at risk was via some other form of "hook":
We use anything in our toolkit that enables us to
connect and hook up with young people. For example, we're doing
a lot of work around sexual violence at the moment, the reason
being that our sexual relationship education workshops were the
most popular with young people, and it provided a safe space environment
for them to talk about issues where they didn't have any other
opportunity. That is a hook for us. In the same way, sport, football,
boxing is a hook for us to engage young people, to connect with
them, build relationships with them and engage them in more complex
and challenging issues.
After they are drawn in, then the relevant experts
can tackle the ideology, theology, emotional support needs and
so forth. Akeela Ahmed cautioned that a too-narrow focus risked
dealing with the symptoms rather than the causes of radicalisation.
72. This fits into a broader argument that favours
mainstreaming Prevent provision. A representative of the London
Borough of Harrow stressed at our conference that mainstreamed
support provided for at-risk individuals by youth workers, delivered
by good partnership working between police and local authority,
was a recipe for success; and raised the question of whether more
of the Prevent agenda should be mainstreamed. The police also
considered that "we will be successful in Prevent policing
only when it is mainstreamed" into neighbourhood policing.
73. Channel is modelled on other multi-agency risk
management processes and uses processes which also safeguard people
at risk from crime, drugs and gangs. It was mentioned in informal
discussions and at our conference that at a local level Prevent
is becoming increasingly viewed as part of the safeguarding agenda.
One individual suggested that Prevent should be re-named "safeguarding".
74. We fully agree with the Government that public
money should not be used to fund groups who hold views that contradict
fundamental British values. However, we are concerned that the
parameters for this policy are not sufficiently clear and that
the situation could arise whereby risk-averse public authorities
discontinue funding for effective groups because of unfounded
allegations of "extremism". The Government should draw
up and issue guidelines with clear criteria to potential funders.
We also note that several Channel providers have recently lost
funding and there is currently a lack of capacity on the ground
to deliver the Strategy. This should be rectified urgently.
75. The view came across strongly in our evidence
that Prevent is most successful at the local level where it is
mainstreamed into local safeguarding procedures, youth services,
neighbourhood policing and so forth. We support this approach
and encourage the Government to do the same.
Community responses to Prevent
76. We got the distinct impression that for many
Muslim communities, radicalisation was not a problem that they
recognised. Murtaza Hassan Shaikh told us:
On the community level in mosques and in community
organisations there is a general sentiment that Muslims don't
see the problem themselves in their communities. So when they
see in the news or when they see the issue of violent extremism
being raised at the political level or national level they wonder
where it actually is. It is not to say it does not exist, but
the examples are so few that people develop a sense of paranoia
and many conspiracy theories because they themselves are not exposed
to these ideas in their own community.
As a result, and because of the way in which the
original Prevent Strategy was phrased and communicated, Muslim
communities felt unfairly targeted by Prevent. Nabil Ahmed criticised
a "disproportionate and unfair focus on Muslim students".
A number of Muslims attended our conference and made it very clear
that considerable suspicion about the Prevent Strategy remained
within their communities, including the suggestion that it was
used to spy on them. In the words of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, of Muslim
Aid, the impression created by the first Prevent Strategy remained
"the lasting one".
At our conference, the potential to rename the Strategy was discussed,
with Ian Paisley MP suggesting a more appropriate term for this
part of CONTEST would be "partnership".
77. Sir Iqbal Sacranie also felt that the current
Government had not learnt from its predecessor in terms of engaging
Muslims: certain individuals continue to be selected by the Government
to act as "Muslim spokesman" who are not representatives
of the varied Muslim communities throughout the UK.
Cage Prisoners told us that "Muslims will continue to reject
any such [Prevent] strategy if they feel their voice has not been
heard" and argued that "the names/organisations of those
involved in supporting Prevent should be published in order for
the Muslim community to see where advice has been sought. Without
this, they will assume that the various communities that exist
in the UK have not been adequately consulted".
78. Dr Colin Roberts, speaking at our conference,
suggested that resistance of the community to Prevent had been
overstated: Muslim attitudes to police are broadly comparable
with those of the general population.
Interestingly, research cited by Dr Sara Silvestri at our conference
suggested that communities felt that it was the general public,
rather than the police, who were discriminatory. Where there was
resistance, it tended to be against "national" rather
than "local" Prevent policing in a kind of "reverse
Communities are being gradually won over but this has been inhibited
by the lack of a positive campaign to counter some of the negative
press surrounding Channel.
79. Language remains a huge issue. The Averroes Institute
Conflation [of Muslims with terrorism] only serves
to reduce the chances of cooperation with the Muslim community
in opposing the violent ideology as the community itself feels
at risk of being identified as those with terrorist tendencies
even though they are against it ... The use of terms that link
violence with religion are ... unproductive given that they legitimise
extreme elements of society to attack aspects of Islam that have
nothing to do with 'violence', but merely on an ideological basis.
At our conference, Sir Iqbal Sacranie stated that,
while he welcomed much in the tone of the Prevent Review, this
did not always tally with Government statements. Alyas Karmani
of the STREET Project considered that the type of language used
by the media explained why some young Muslims might be particularly
exposed to extremist media on the internet:
The end result [of a perception of Islamophobia]
is that people access alternative media, so they become completely
disillusioned with mainstream and they go to layers underneath
80. Despite the Government's efforts to remedy
this perception, there is a lingering suspicion about the Prevent
Strategy amongst Muslim communities, many of whom continue to
believe that it is essentially a tool for intelligence-gathering
or spying. This might be mitigated if these communities felt more
ownership of the strategy: the Government should be even more
open and transparent about whom it engages with in the UK's varied
Muslim communities and should seek to engage more widely. Only
through engagement will the Government be able to get communities
on their side and really prevent radicalisation. It would also
be assisted by adopting a more pro-active approach to combating
negative publicity, particularly in respect of the Channel programme.
We saw plenty of evidence during our enquiry both of engagement
and of considerable expertise within the Muslim community. This
needs to be acknowledged and respected by the authorities in order
to strengthen the foundations of the partnership approach, which
is proving effective in many places. Finally, we believe there
is a strong case for re-naming the Prevent Strategy to reflect
a positive approach to collaboration with the Muslim communities
of the UK, for example the Engage Strategy.
81. The language used to talk about Prevent, and
counter-terrorism more generally, can have a detrimental effect
on Muslim communities' willingness to cooperate with Prevent where
it conflates terrorism with the religion of Islam. The Prevent
Strategy largely manages to avoid this. However, those engaged
in public life must ensure that the language they use reflects
the same tone.
82. A further issue we considered in our inquiry
is the usefulness of the proscription regime in deterring people
from joining extremist groups, and how the regime is working.
Professor Clive Walker, an expert on counter-terrorism legislation
from the University of Leeds, stated that:
Successive governments have called in aid three arguments
for proscription: First, it has been, and remains, a powerful
deterrent to people to engage in terrorist activity. Secondly,
related offences are a way of tackling some of the lower-level
support for terrorist organisations.
acts as a powerful signal of the rejection by the Governmentand
indeed by society as a wholeof organisations' claim to
83. Under Part II of the Terrorism Act 2000, the
Home Secretary can proscribe any organisation she believes "is
concerned with terrorism". An organisation "is concerned
in terrorism" if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism (including
unlawful glorification) or is otherwise concerned in terrorism.
If this statutory test is met, the Home Secretary must consider
whether the organisation should be proscribed on policy grounds.
The five policy criteria are:
- the nature and scale of the
- the specific threat that it poses to the UK;
- the specific threat that it poses to British
- the extent of the organisation's presence in
the UK; and
- the need to support other members of the international
community in the global fight against terrorism.
There are 48 proscribed international terrorist organisations
in the UK in addition to 14 organisations proscribed in relation
to Northern Ireland.
There are no proscribed organisations relating to extreme far-right
terrorism. Most recently the Home Secretary proscribed Muslims
Against Crusades, on 10 November 2011, on the grounds that she
was satisfied it was simply another name for an organisation already
proscribed under a number of other names.
84. While he acknowledged some of the weaknesses
in the current proscription regime, for example the propensity
of some groups to change their names, Charles Farr argued that
it was effective based on the 20 convictions for proscription-related
offences since 9/11.
85. As part of the review of Counter-Terrorism Powers
that reported in January 2011, the Government considered widening
the basis for proscription so that incitement to violence or hatred
should become reasons for proscribing organisations that openly
espouse this sort of behaviour: this proposal was rejected. This
was supported by our evidence. Such a change in the law may have
allowed for the banning of groups including Hizb-ut-Tahrir and
the English Defence League. Some witnesses argued that it would
not be advantageous to proscribe such groups, but Jamie Bartlett
suggested that the threat of proscription could be a useful deterrent:
Having the Sword of Damocles constantly hanging over
groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir has been helpful in forcing them to
moderate in many respects.
86. Proscription is meant to be subject to ongoing
review. However, only one organisation has been de-proscribed
since 2000, following a direct request from the organisation concerned;
no Minister has taken the decision to de-proscribe an organisation.
Our Chair raised, as an example of an organisation which might
merit a review, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which is
still banned in this country despite no longer appearing to be
an active terrorist force in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.
In some cases, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation,
David Anderson QC, said he had "no doubt at all" that
proscription was done at the behest of foreign governments.
Given this pressure and the difficulties organisations face in
challenging proscription, Mr Anderson has argued that proscription
orders should be time-limited.
87. The Government recently reviewed proscription
legislation as part of the review of counter-terrorism powers
published in January 2011. We agree with the decision not to strengthen
the law on proscription in a way which would allow for the banning
of groups which are currently operating within the law, as the
evidence suggests that proscription would not be effective and
could be counter-productive. However, we are concerned that it
is too difficult for groups who no longer pose a terrorist threat
to obtain de-proscription, a move which might encourage some groups
in their move away from active support for terrorism. We therefore
endorse the recommendation of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism
Legislation that the law be changed to make proscription orders
88. Violent radicalisation is clearly a problem
within the UK but it takes place within an international context
and it is important for the UK authorities to be aware of developments
elsewhere and to share information with partners abroad, both
in respect of extremist Islamist organisations or movements, and
in respect of extreme right-wing groups within Europe and America.
However, the strongest forces against radicalisation are the partnerships
of mutual respect and shared citizenship within the UK and within
local communities in our towns and cities. The evidence given
by Muslim organisations was impressive and we were encouraged
by the evidence of greater effectiveness of local partnerships,
of leadership within individual communities such as the student
community, and the evidence of joined up thinking, for instance
in preparing for the return of offenders to the community. It
is important for the government to demonstrate, by action and
words, strong support for these initiatives as well as maintaining
the determination to support the work of intelligence agencies
and the police in tackling those who choose the route of violence
and intervening to protect those they seek to recruit.
77 HM Government, Prevent Strategy, June 2011 Back
Q 350 [Professor Neumann; Mr Bartlett; Ms Stuart]; Ev w23 [Lord
HM Government, Prevent Strategy, June 2011, para 9.23 Back
See, for example, Q 155 [Ms Ahmed]; Q 156 [Mr Hassan Shaikh];
Annex A Back
Europol, EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2011,
2011, p 29 Back
Ev 95 Back
Qq 183-4 Back
Q 186 Back
Q 205 Back
See also the evidence of Jamie Bartlett of Demos , referred to
at paragraph  above. Back
HM Government, Prevent Strategy, June 2011, para 10.86 Back
Q 369 Back
Qq 238, 249 Back
Q 263 Back
Qq 241, 264 Back
Ev 109 Back
Ev 104 Back
Ev w26 Back
Annex A Back
Quilliam Foundation, Radicalisation on British university campuses:
a case study, October 2010 Back
Ev w26 Back
Q 233 Back
Q 233 [Sir Norman Bettison] Back
Q 319 Back
The type of material in respect of which a section 3 notice may
be issued is defined in sections 1 and 2 of the Act. Back
Ev w24 Back
Qq 370-2 Back
Ev w25 Back
Q 233 Back
Ev w24 Back
Q 181 Back
Q 313 Back
HM Government, Prevent Strategy, June 2011, para 8.62 Back
Q 373 Back
Peter Neumann, Prison and Terrorism: Radicalisation and De-radicalisation
in 15 countries, ICSR, 2010, p 20 Back
Q 284 Back
Q 375 Back
Q 267; Annex B Back
Q 143 Back
Annex B Back
Q 121 Back
Q 441 [Iman Sikander] Back
Q 296 Back
Q 296 [Mr Pickering] Back
Q 322 Back
The National Offender Management Service clarified subsequent
to the visit that they had a Memorandum of Understanding in place
with the UK Border Agency on information sharing about TACT offenders
of common interest but little contact with UKBA specifically in
relation to prisons. Back
Annex B Back
HM Government, Prevent Strategy, June 2011, paras 9.11,
Qq 65, 79 Back
Q 342 Back
Q 351 Back
Q 79 Back
Ev 108 Back
Q 351 Back
Q 165 [Mr Karmani] Back
Q 166 Back
Q 219 [Sir Norman Bettison] Back
Q 136 Back
Q 251 [Mr Ahmed] Back
Annex A Back
Q 444 Back
Annex A Back
Ev w11, paras 3.2-3.3 Back
Q 440 Back
Annex A Back
Ev 116 Back
Q 140 Back
Hansard HC Standing Committee D, col 56 (18 January 2000), Charles
Clarke, cited in Ev [Professor Walker], Back
HM Government, Contest: The UK's Strategy for Countering Terrorism,
2011, p 47 Back
Home Office press notice, "Terror organisation proscribed",
9 November 2011, www.homeoffice.gov.uk Back
Q 331 Back
Q 363 Back
Q 326 Back
Q 383 Back
Q 382 Back