Memorandum from NAMP (National Association of Muslim police) (PVE 71)

 

Summary:

The below is a brief outline of National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) submission for the Preventing Violent Extremism enquiry.

Prior to beginning our summary, we take this opportunity in explaining the reason for our delay in making this submission. NAMP was given the opportunity at a late hour and has made attempt to get a submission that will support the overall investigation/enquiry into PREVENT.

It is first real opportunity for us to make a real contribution to any such enquiry and we welcome this opportunity. NAMP has been established since July 2007 and is a Police Officer and Staff based support network, we have some 12 affiliated forces and 4 in interim phase in England, Wales and Scotland, with a membership of over 2000.

Our objectives include:

Support Network.

Increase Trust /Confidence and improve Community Cohesion.

Recruitment/Retention and Progression.

Raising Islamic Awareness and dealing with Equality issues such as Islamophobia.

The PREVENT strategy has been with us for sufficient time to enable a methodical review of its delivery and effectiveness. Any such strategy must be subject to review and we welcome this committee's enquiry.

From the outset a very sizeable section of the Muslim Community has shown real concern at the main thrust and inner drive being focused on Islam and Muslims. Whilst there is a clear need to address some under lying concerns within the Muslim Communities. Radicalisation and extremism are not confined to the Muslim Community. Recent examples of acts of Terrorism in Northern Ireland are a testament to this. We have seen a growth of the threat posed by the right wing. This threat takes the form of both political and direct action, direct action has seen the rise of potential of the far right. Recent arrests and indeed the Brixton nail bombings show that there are individuals in other societies that are not in tune with main stream Britain.

The Muslim communities feel a sense of frustration that the institutions that can protect them are not really listening to their concerns. The consultation appears to be a simple tick box exercise with no real interest in solving the real issues affecting us all.

The strategies of PREVENT were historically focused on so called Islamist extremism.

This has subjected the biggest Black and Minority Ethnic community and second biggest faith group in an unprecedented manner ,stigitimatising them in the process. It has also arguably isolated them and visibly made them the focus of all our anti Terror actions for a substantial period. The net result may have caused some serious damage to Community Cohesion.

Never before has a community been mapped in a manner and nor will it be, it is frustrating to see this in a country that is a real pillar and example of freedom of expression and choice. Our British system is a model for the world to follow, yet we have embarked on a journey that has put this very core of British values under real threat. This has been echoed from all areas of the globe, the UN in New York to Liberty based in the UK.

The hatred towards Muslims has grown to a level that defies all logic and is an affront to British values. The climate is such that Muslim are subject to daily abuse in a manner that would be ridiculed by Britain, were this to occur any where else. An example of this was the recent BBC programme titled "hate at your door step". This programme gave us an insight at level of abuse faced by many Muslims in Britain on a daily basis.

We must not diminish our British values further by continuing to allow such behavior and policies to continue unchecked.

 

 

Institute Race Relations Report SPOOKED by Arun Kundhani listed some key areas of real concern,

The report's key findings are that:

Prevent-funded voluntary sector organisations and workers in local authorities are becoming increasingly wary of the expectations on them to provide the police with information on young Muslims and their religious and political opinions.

The atmosphere promoted by Prevent is one in which to make radical criticisms of the government is to risk losing funding and facing isolation as an 'extremist', while those organisations which support the government are rewarded.

Local authorities have been pressured to accept Prevent funding in direct proportion to the numbers of Muslims in their area - in effect, constructing the Muslim population as a 'suspect community'.

Prevent decision-making lacks transparency and local accountability.

Prevent has undermined progressive elements within the earlier community cohesion agenda and absorbed from it those parts which are most problematic.

The current emphasis of Prevent on depoliticising young people and restricting radical dissent is actually counter-productive because it strengthens the hands of those who say democracy is pointless.

 

1-Is the Prevent programme the right way of addressing the problem of violent extremism, or are there better ways of doing it?

1.1: There has to be an alternative in dealing with extremism, whether Islamic or Non Islamic. The present PREVENT and CONTEST 2 in seen, perceived and based on so called Islamic Extremist.

1.2: The initiative has been led from the start by issues that included International matters namely Foreign policy, yet this was largely ignored in strategic term's and was only part acknowledged after all the strategies had been devised . The impact of Foreign policy is still not really addressed neither are grievances nor the sense of duplicity and double standards.

1.3: The term does not lend itself well to public acceptability and apart from the negativity that has gained momentum over time; the badge is in serious need of refreshment and change.

1.4: If we are to tackle extremism, our strategy needs to reflect this not just in word, actions but in spirit. We need to be seen to doing and practicising what we preach, the old adage of "do as I say and not as I do" needs to disappear if we are to deal with these threats.

1.5: All forms Right Wing, Separatist, so called Islamist, Green issues, Single entity....... need to addressed as opposed to the current PREVENT focus on Islam.

1.6: We need to seriously consider the Prevent agenda sitting within Cohesion and being more acceptable to general Social Cohesion rather than its current Counter Terrorism base. However there may need to be caution of the danger's of this being too politicised if we adapt this format.

1.7: It appears that the whole of the Muslim Communities some 2 million plus is being stigitimsed and mapped from start to end, There has never been in any case in history to such effective mapping apart from the Martian era in America pre the second world war.

1.8: It can be argued that there is a connection in the rise of islamophobia and our PREVENT programme as it feeds on the stereo types that the media and some right wing parties promote i.e all Muslims are evil and non trust worthy.

 

2-How robust is the Government's analysis of the factors which lead people to become involved in violent extremism? Is the 'Prevent' programme appropriately targeted to address the most important of those factors?

2.1: The present PREVENT strategy is based very narrowly in its analysis and root causes, there is no mention of deprivation factors i.e. Report of TUC re deprivation in Pakistani and Bengali Communities to name one source, discrimination i.e. anecdotal evidence and EU human Rights report on Discrimination in Europe, whilst this did not include the UK. There is anecdotal evidence to show this is mirrored in the UK in the form of Islamophobia i.e. Runnymede trust report a challenge for all of us in 1997 and various other reports show this as a daily challenge. There appears to be no strategy to acknowledge nor drive this by the use of a problem solving approach

 

Our foreign policy appears to be based on established pressure groups and some would say double standards i.e. Israel's breach of countless United Nations resolutions along with its possession of Nuclear Weapons shows a lack of honest brokering by key players including the UK as all have failed to take any action here but this is contrasted with similar occurrences elsewhere. There appears to be in consistency in our approach to matters such as the lack of any real actions in Gaza in comparison to our rapid action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

2.2: There is concern as to who was consulted and who formed part of the original group that devised our PREVENT strategy. It appears that the usual suspects and those with whom we appear to be comfortable with were part of the so called inner circle.

 

2.3: All research including that by OSCT from interviews with those convicted of Terrorism acts shows Islam was not and is not a real driver but all our strategy seem to focus on this unevidenced view of Islam being the driver. In fact the research shows that firstly the so called Terrorist have little if any knowledge of Islam and secondly were they to be more islamically aware they may not be susceptable to such deviance or actions.

 

2.4 Foreign policy and an un even handed approach to world affairs has caused major concern in our communities. Modern society is more knowledgeable of current affairs and has greater access to world news from a variety of sources, spin is not a productive tool in long run i.e. Current Debate on Rendition, The Iraq enquiry, Abu Garib,.......ETC. Prevent does not really tackle these root causes.

 

2.5 Terrorism is a complex area for us all and a more thorough research should have been commissioned before any consideration was given to the PREVENT strategy being formulated. There needs to be a clear understanding of what drives people and individuals to break away from so called normal behaviour and take the deviant route to radical or criminal action that we refer to.

3.How appropriate, and how effective, is the Government's strategy for engaging with communities? Has the Government been speaking to the right people? Has its programme reached those at whom it is-or should be-aimed?

 

3.1: There is a perception that Government is comfortable speaking with those who appear to foster and support its own views rather than those that represent the communities, i.e. Muslim Council of Britain has been politicized and marginalized and is a main stream popular Muslim organisation.This approach is hugely divisive and counter productive particularly when we consider engagement with our communities has to be based on real and not selective engagement.

3.2: The Quilliam Foundation and British Muslim Forum appear to be flavor of the Month, whilst other main stream are ignored and marginalized. There are echoes of what was often said about the Racism problems of the 70's and 80's, who do they really represent? We appear to have ignored the lessons learnt from these dark days.

3.3 Arguable the programme has been restricted in effectiveness although this cannot be truly gauged due to a lack of an effective transparent review of the strategy. There appears to be strong belief that we have not really engaged nor reached the real targets of our objectives.

4- Is the necessary advice and expertise available to local authorities on how to implement and evaluate the programme?

 

4.1: There appears to be little in terms of evaluation of all the projects and work carried out thus far. Local authorities and partners all have management tools of evaluation; the question is not whether they have the tools and support but more whether there is any real evaluation of delivery based on effectiveness and cost.

 

4.2: The lack of demographically and representative Muslim perspectives in key areas is of concern and needs to addressed i.e. lack of Muslims in key areas of decision making.

 

4.3: This can be evidenced from Local authority to government as there is little visible representation. Clearly if we all to be part of one community we need to be seen and reflecting our communities demographics (Muslims make up some 3% and some local authorities as high as 15-20%), yet the lack of Muslims is puzzling.

5-Are the objectives of the 'Prevent' agenda being communicated effectively to those at whom it is aimed?

 

5.1: Whilst the projects such as Chanel from Prevent appear to be showing success in terms of referrals and recent take on of some right wing extremism. There is question again about the targeting of the real needy. It is debatable whether we are reaching the really hard to reach individuals who may be effected by this thought process.

5.3: There seems too little transparency or evaluations of projects of prevent, hence it is not easy to measure or evidence success. Yet again it is all based around Islam and Conjecture.

5.4: There is concern at the PREVENT agenda and anecdotal evidence show's that sections of the Muslim Communities and the wider community are realigning themselves away from this programme due to the negativity and impact on communities especially Muslim .

5.5: There is concern of the use of comforting partners, organisations that we appear to like. We need to be based more broadly in terms of the main stream Muslim communities, organizations and not be entirely focused on new emerging organizations, specifically those born out of political drive.

6-Is the Government seeking, and obtaining, appropriate advice on how to achieve the goals of the 'Prevent' programme?

 

6.1: There appears to be greater consultation from top down by better inclusion of Muslim's within the process i.e. Acceptance at OSCT of Muslim Involvement and NAMP being finally included in the ACPO Prevent Board.

 

6.2: Such attendance is still seen as tokenistic as representatives are vastly outnumbered and hence out voted on any real debate. We need to ensure that whilst the Muslim Communities is not solely responsible for proactive work in reducing extremism, it is effectively represented by the right individuals where the need arises.

 

6.3: Counter Terrorism units are an example of this disproportionate representation, NAMP in partnership with National Prevent delivery Unit are undertaking a piece of research to look at monitoring staff representation and hopefully work with ACPO on any issues identified.

 

6.4: The impact and growth of the far right and its ability to carry out Terror acts cannot and should not be under estimated.

7-How effectively has the Government evaluated the effectiveness of the programme and the value for money which is being obtained from it? Have reactions to the programme been adequately gauged?

 

7.1: As indicated above (4.1, 4.2, 4.3) there is little in terms of critical evaluation of outcomes.

7.2: This need's careful consideration in view of the economic constraints and in effective use of key financial resources during these difficult times.

7.3: The opinion of the Muslim Communities does not appear to be effectively gauged or taken into consideration i.e. Start of prevent and serious concerns of the community, like Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Safety Forum on other matters such as Gaza, Gazan Convoy, Protests outside the Israeli Embassy re Gazan siege, Arrest of individual in Manchester in April 2009 and also those most recently in Manchester. There is a perception that the institutions appear to be paying lip service and any concerns or opinion in not really acted upon or considered.

7.4: There is evidence to show that some communities are no longer supportive of prevent and appear to be walking away from the large financial gains due to the negative impact and perceptions i.e. Most recent cases of arrest in the North.

 

8-Is there adequate differentiation between what should be achieved through the Prevent programme and the priorities that concern related, but distinct, policy frameworks such as cohesion and integration?

 

8.1: Reports from EU Policing show that the threats faced by EU are predominately from far right and separatist extremism some 70%. The reports also show that there is a real need to re examine our terminology and strategies of prosecution. Namely what is extremism and Terrorism?Evidence shows we deal with so called Islamist extremists as Terrorist, whilst the right wing and separatist are dealt with as extremist hence facing lesser (charges)legal action.

8.2: The biggest haul of weaponry in the UK was from Right Wing Sources.

8.3: We needs to ensure our Prevent and Cohesion strategies are based on equality and impact assessed effectively on all our communities, this includes our so called definitions.

References:

 

Reports

Islamophobia "a challenge for us all" Runneymeade Trust 1997

IRR Spooked report by Arun Kundhani

TV Programmes

ITV "It shouldn't happen to a Muslim"

BBC "Hate at your doorstep".

Internet Links

Spooked Report

http://www.irr.org.uk/2009/october/ak000036.html

It shouldn't happen to a Muslim C4 P OBORNE

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/dispatches/it+shouldnt+happen+to+a+muslim/2314592

Hate at your doorstep BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00nfr2h/Panorama_Undercover_Hate_on_the_Doorstep/

Gazan Protest Guardian 10 Jan 2009

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00nfr2h/Panorama_Undercover_Hate_on_the_Doorstep/

Guardian Govt anti terror strategy spies on Muslims V DODD 16 Oct 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/16/anti-terrorism-strategy-spies-innocents

Guardian Community fear project to counter extremism is not is not what it seems 16 Oct 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/16/prevent-counter-islamic-extremism-intelligence

Guardian Muslim Group hit out at terror funding with security strings attached 4 Oct 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/04/muslim-groups-community-funding-security

 

Islamist watch Anti-terror code 'would alienate most Muslims' 17 Feb 2009

http://www.islamist-watch.org/1338/anti-terror-code-would-alienate-most-muslims

Times Online Lord Carlile attacks Gordon Brown comment's on April 2009 Terror Arrests 25 Nov 2009

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6930709.ece

Asian News GMP slammed over botched terror arrests 25 Nov 2009

http://www.theasiannews.co.uk/news/s/1183770_gmp_slammed_over_botched_terror_arrests

TE STAT EU TERRORISM SITUATION TREND REPORT 2008

http://www.europol.europa.eu/publications/EU_Terrorism_Situation_and_Trend_Report_TE-SAT/TESAT2008.pdf

 

November 2009