(London, U.K.) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) welcomes the publication of the review of the U.K. Prevent strategy and fully endorses the recommendations outlined.
Led by William Shawcross, who was appointed Independent Reviewer of Prevent in 2021, the review stresses that the U.K.’s counter-extremism program has strayed too far from its core purpose of preventing people from becoming involved in terrorism. As the government looks to refocus the program, CEP calls on U.K. policymakers to ensure that Prevent is more effective in combating the threat of terrorism.
Prof. Ian Acheson, CEP senior advisor and former senior official in the U.K. Home Office, added:
“CEP has consistently argued that there has been an inflation of the threat from extreme right-wing terror within the Prevent sector and a manufactured parity or false equivalence with Islamist terrorism—which remains the principal threat to Britain. In fact, Mr Shawcross’ review shows that the focus on right-wing terrorism was actually more than manufactured parity, as the resources and referrals relating to right-wing terrorism and other ill-conceived categories of extremism now outstrip Islamist terror referrals. This is despite the Government’s own statistical evidence on arrests, convictions, late stage plots and prison offender profile as well as evidence from its own advisors suggesting the pre-eminent threat is from Islamist ideologies.
“We also share the view that Islamist extremism has been defined too narrowly, while the far-right has been defined too broadly. Conservative and right-wing political thought and activism which fall well short of non-violent extremism is not the business of Prevent. In contrast, a variety of violent Islamist groups and non-violent Islamist groups which work to undermine democracy are dangerously overlooked as threats to our national security. Moreover, some of these groups have actually been funded through Prevent officials—a bizarre and unacceptable dereliction of duty. As the review outlines, both Hamas and Hezbollah enjoy extensive support networks in Britain, but this does not feature in discussion and analysis.”
Liam Duffy, CEP strategic advisor, said:
“We fully agree that more training and information must be made available relating to Islamist terrorism, a theme CEP produces a variety of resources on to aid practitioners and policymakers. This is a sensitive and poorly understood area, but sensitivities can be overcome with greater confidence in the subject matter. Accusations and suspicion against practitioners and experts who focus on Islamist extremism and terrorism are wholly unacceptable and create an environment in which it is impossible to effectively deliver a terrorism prevention strategy.
“We were shocked to learn that some funded civil society organisations and some groups and individuals consulted on matters of countering extremism and counterterrorism have themselves expressed views at odds with these objectives. In addition to the recommendations outlined by Mr. Shawcross, greater understanding of the British Islamist scene, its narratives, networks, objectives, and motivations could prevent such mistakes in future.”