The Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) independent report produced on 17th October 2009 entitled ‘Spooked! How not to prevent violent extremism‘ raises concerns about how has described how the Government’s ‘PREVENT’ programme has led to “violations of privacy and professional norms of confidentiality” and presents evidence that “Prevent-funded services are being used by counter-terrorist police for information gathering”, through the institution of a little known protocol, the ‘Information Sharing Agreements’ (ASAs).
In short, some of the key findings of the report are:
- Prevent funding has not been driven by a decision-making process in which local agencies identify their own needs and access central government funds accordingly.Rather,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 accountability. Decisions are taken behind closed doors rather than in consultation with the voluntary and community sector.
- Prevent,with its focus on a single group,has undermined this aspect of the cohesion agenda
- The embedding of counter-terrorism police ofﬁcers within the delivery of local services,the purpose of which seems to be to gather intelligence on Muslim communities,to identify areas,groups and individuals that are ‘at risk’and to then facilitate interventions
The report closes with some key recommendations which also includes identifying and addressing the specific needs of different communities for local service and community development