How Prevent became 'political correctness' battleground

How Prevent became 'political correctness' battleground
How Prevent became 'political correctness' battleground

The UK's flagship anti-terror strategy is being undermined by a politically correct emphasis on right-wing extremism over more dangerous Islamist radicalism, critics have said - as a review prepares to overhaul the 'broken' system.

Prevent has come under fresh scrutiny after it emerged Ali Harbi Ali, the suspected terrorist accused of murdering Tory MP David Amess, was referred to the programme but his case was not deemed enough of a risk to be passed on to MI5.

In recent years, much of its resources have been diverted to tracking suspected right-wing extremists, which made up 43% (302) of cases considered among the most serious last year compared to just 30% (210) concerning Islamism, official data shows. 

By comparison, in 2015/16, 262 cases (69%) were for Muslim extremism and 98 (26%) for far right. The number of cases counted as serious far-right extremism has increased year on year since then, while Islamist ones have fluctuated. 

Today, an intelligence source said that 'although some right-wing extremists are dangerous people... by and large they are hoodlums'. 

'They do not present the same risk as Islamists by any distance, by a factor of four or five to one,' the source told the Telegraph. 'Everyone was trying very hard to be politically correct and not Islamophobic. But the whole process has become unbalanced. 

'More time has been spent than appropriate on right-wing extremism and not Islamism. There needs to be some honest appraisal about where the threat is actually coming from.' 

It comes amid fears of a growing threat from so-called 'bedroom radicals' who have soaked up extreme beliefs from the Internet over lockdown. 

Intelligence agencies are struggling to monitor these people because of the difficulty of distinguishing between those spewing hate-filled propaganda and genuine terrorists, security sources told the Times

In recent years, much of its resources have been diverted to tracking suspected right-wing extremists, which made up 43% (302) of cases considered among the most serious last year compared to just 30% (210) concerning Islamism, official data shows

In recent years, much of its resources have been diverted to tracking suspected right-wing extremists, which made up 43% (302) of cases considered among the most serious last year compared to just 30% (210) concerning Islamism, official data shows

Since 2015/16, there has been an 80% drop in the number of initial referrals over concerns of Islamic radicalisation and a steady increase in those concerning far-right beliefs

Since 2015/16, there has been an 80% drop in the number of initial referrals over concerns of Islamic radicalisation and a steady increase in those concerning far-right beliefs

Prevent places a duty on local public servants including teachers, doctors and social workers to flag concerns about an individual being radicalised or drawn into terrorism. 

Since 2015/16, there has been an 80% drop in the number of initial referrals over concerns of Islamic radicalisation and a steady increase in those concerning far-right beliefs. 

How does the controversial Prevent scheme work?  

Under the Prevent programme, local authority staff and other professionals such as doctors, teachers and social workers have a duty to flag concerns about an individual being radicalised or drawn into a terrorism. 

This report is then be passed to a local official charged with deciding whether the tip-off merits a formal referral. This is typically a council worker, a police officer or someone directly employed by the Home Office. 

Cases are then categorised depending on the nature of the individual's alleged beliefs - based on evidence ranging from comments they have been overheard saying to their social media history. People who are not viewed as either far-right or Islamist are categorised as having a 'mixed, unstable or unclear’ ideology.

Less serious reports may be sent to council services, which could include parenting support for families whose children have been watching inappropriate videos online. 

Serious reports are forwarded on to Prevent's Channel stage,

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