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Prevent: Is it Working?

In a recent report by racial equality pressure group JUST Yorkshire, the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy Prevent has been criticised as both ineffective and counter-productive. Created in 2003, Prevent is part of a four-strand strategy known as Contest, developed to tackle terrorism – with a focus on stopping people becoming terrorists and curbing terrorist support. The programme was set up by Labour in 2003 and further developed by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2011.

JUST Yorkshire say the strategy has been “built on a foundation of Islamophobia and racism”, is counterproductive and there is a lack of accountability, and it has a “disproportionate and discriminatory” focus on Muslim communities.

The government strategy has been controversial from the outset and has been criticised by a number of MPs, the National Union of Teachers and the Muslim Council of Britain.

The Prevent strategy was developed with the aim of helping the police build relations with other organisations and requires people in the community such as faith leaders, teachers, doctors and others to be vigilant and refer any concerns about people to their local Prevent body. An assessment is then made by Prevent to decide whether further action is needed. In 2015-16, Prevent saw 7500 referrals. Prevent acted on one in every ten cases submitted.

Commander Dean Haydon of Scotland Yard says criticism of Prevent is based on “ignorance”. He added that critics were “don’t want Prevent to work in the first place”. He said the counterterrorism programme was not designed to spy on people, but instead it was about keeping them safe, and has so far achieved fantastic results in preventing people from being radicalised.

Haydon said the threat has now changed, and the police are now facing huge difficulties as individuals are acting indiscriminately, and often alone as opposed to in groups. The attacks are now on the public using everyday items to terrorise such as vehicles and knives, whereas before the police were trying to quash those involved in larger-scale plots.

One of the concerns surrounding the Prevent strategy, Haydon said, was the policy for people returning to the UK from Syria and Iraq, for which, he said, the current default position was “arrest and prosecution”.

Another problem is that it is very difficult to measure the full extent of the strategy’s successes and failures. It remains to be seen if the widespread criticism and the changing face of terrorism will spur the government to conduct a review of the strategy.




Stephen Lickrish & Associates are a group of highly experienced terrorism solicitors in Manchester that also represent on a national basis. Regardless of where you are in the country, they have experience and dedication to help you through what can be a complex and difficult process, because your solicitors will be communicating with your family primarily in order to properly plan and execute your defence upon your return.

As mentioned previously, Stephen Lickrish & Associates has wealth of experience in defending terrorism cases. In fact, they successfully provided representation for a group of people from the same family who were suspected of terrorism in the North West in April 2015. Thanks to the expertise of the solicitors involved, all six people were released without charge after being detained in Turkey. This is just one of the many high-profile terrorism cases that they have been involved in.

As well as providing expertise on terrorism, Stephen Lickrish & Associates also have experience providing representation for a wide variety of offences, including:

You can contact us today on 0161 237 1913 or through our emergency 24-hour legal advice line on 0800 988 64 22.

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