Clive Walker discusses the Government’s Prevent strategy in the wake of the attacks in Manchester and London
Emeritus Professor Clive Walker reviews the Government’s controversial Prevent strategy after plans for a Commission for Countering Extremism were set out in the Queen’s Speech.
Discussing the recent attacks in Manchester and London, Professor Walker discussed whether Prevent could have stopped these attackers from turning to violent extremism.
In the article, Professor Walker highlights some of the historical turns of Prevent and how it has developed over the last 15 years following the aftermath of 9/11 with much focus now on Project Channel to refer those at risk, and an emphasis on institutions where extremism might be propagated.
He argues, "The theoretical development of Prevent is a sound element of counter-terrorism. Addressing the narratives of extremism should make it harder for extremists to sustain their arguments. Attempts to divert children and vulnerable persons away from violent extremism are no less legitimate than attempts to divert children from drug-taking or other harmful or self-abusive behaviour. Yet, Prevent has faced significant challenges. It is based on uncertain theoretical foundations regarding the triggers and linkages of extremism, and violence. There is a lack of accountability or evidence to prove that it is effective."
"In practice, Prevent can be seen as uncertain, divisive, heavy-handed and secretive, especially by elements within those Muslim-heritage communities who feel they are the prime targets. Finally, Prevent seemed both to conflict with other important policies, especially community cohesion."