Home Secretary: Safeguarding young people from radicalisation is difficult but vital
The UK’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd has released a statement regarding the ‘Prevent’ strategy that stops young and vulnerable people from being radicalised.
“Preventing people from committing appalling acts of terror in the UK is something we should all want” argues the country’s Home Secretary.
Last month Amber Rudd released a statement that has since been published on the government’s website, claiming that safeguarding our young people from becoming radicalised - either by the extreme right wing or Islamist extremists - should not be a controversial aim for the UK.
Yet despite this, she wrote that there are people who are actively trying to undermine the government’s Prevent programme without offering an effective alternative.
“The truth is, as Commander Dean Haydon of the Metropolitan Police said this week, many of the most vocal opponents do not want Prevent to work in the first place,” she wrote.
“They say it is about spying on communities. But asking teachers and others to be alert to signs of radicalisation and refer those who may need help works in a similar way to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gang activity, drug abuse, and sexual abuse.”
What is the Prevent programme?
The Prevent programme is a strategy by the UK government to safeguard people and communities from the threat of terrorism. It is one of four elements by ‘CONTEST’ - the government’s counter-terrorism strategy to stop people supporting terrorism or becoming a terrorist themselves.
When it comes to practice, it aims for the police and other important organisations to build relationships across the UK. According to the BBC it requires faith leaders, teachers, doctors and others to report any suspicious behaviour from those they are dealing with to a local ‘Prevent’ body.
Following this, an assessment is made to decide whether further action is required. In many instances, social services departments are increasingly being involved in identifying ‘Prevent’ cases because of their duty to counter radicalisation.
Does Prevent restrict free speech?
According to Ms Rudd, although some claim ‘Prevent’ stifles free speech, on the contrary, schools and colleges should provide a safe space where children and young people can understand the risks associated with terrorism. Here, they could also develop the knowledge and skills to be able to challenge any extremist arguments. This, she argues is something that ‘Prevent’ encourages.
However, in an article by the Independent it was argued that the ‘Prevent’ strategy in fact conceptualises radicalisation and extremism based on the view that religious ideology is the primary driving factor for terrorism.
In addition to this, bodies like the National Union Of Journalists (NUJ) have argued that ‘Prevent’ will likely have an impact on open debate, free speech and political dissent. This is because it could create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly and will instead withdraw to unsupervised spaces, in turn, making us less safe.
Has Prevent been effective?
The Home Secretary argues that the ‘Prevent’ strategy deals with all forms of extremism. “I am the first Home Secretary to ban an extreme right wing group, National Action, for their links to terrorism,” she highlights. “Prevent aims to protect all those who are targeted by the terrorist recruiters who seek to weaponise them.”
Ms Rudd concluded her statement by claiming that Prevent had so far significantly impacted the preventions of those being drawn to terrorism. Because of that, she said that it is “here to stay”.
“In light of the horrific terror attacks in London and Manchester, we are reviewing all aspects of our counter terrorism strategy to make sure we keep pace with the changing terrorist threat. Prevent will continue to play a major part in our future counter terrorism approach.”