London – The long-overdue Shawcross Review into PREVENT proposes a renewed hardline approach to bolster an infrastructure of authoritarian laws, an approach underpinned by exploiting anti Muslim prejudices.

The ‘reset’ of the PREVENT Strategy is an admission of its failure; a vindication of CAGE and other critics at the forefront of highlighting the policy’s inherently flawed and bigoted nature. [1]

The Shawcross Review is the work of right-wing Islamophobic lobbies within the state. Such interest groups espouse a well-documented commentary of anti-Muslim prejudice, pro-torture and the securitisation of Muslim communities across the UK. [2] Consequently the Review fails to meet basic standards of  impartiality, balance and fairness. The Review avoids any analysis of lessons learned, but instead focuses on the artificial case for more surveillance and  policing. It is no surprise therefore that critics are labelled as ‘extreme’, in order to blacklist them to deflect attention from valid criticism.

William Shawcross is now targeting groups he failed to disrupt during his tenure at the Charity Commission. [3] In 2015 during the height of his attempts to remodel the Charity Commission as a political regulator, he lost a legal battle against CAGE at the High Court. Lord Chief Justice Thomas pronounced that the Commission had been ‘high-handed’, and that the regulator had no power to permanently ban a charity from funding CAGE or any given cause. [4] His Islamophobic views and links to right-wing think tanks Henry Jackson Society and Policy Exchange are well known as is his personal vendetta against CAGE.

The review does away with any pretence that the policy has acted as a ‘safeguarding’ mechanism by centralising the PREVENT Strategy within the state’s security apparatus. [5] The management of the Strategy by police and security services will inevitably only lead to a further lack of transparency, accountability and abuse. There must be an immediate withdrawal of PREVENT from the public sector, as it is now clear that an intrusive surveillance role is for MI5 and the police, and should never have been imposed on mainstream public officials.

Anas Mustapha, CAGE’s Head of Public Advocacy said:

“CAGE has worked tirelessly to reveal the acute dangers of the PREVENT Strategy and how it is used by the government as a tool to securitise Britain’s communities, stoke a climate of suspicion and fear, and expand the surveillance state. In light of this, CAGE calls for the abolishment of the PREVENT strategy in its entirety.”

“The open discussion about resetting PREVENT is a vindication of CAGE and others who consistently highlighted the policy’s racist underpinnings, flawed logic and ways it undermined free speech. Fundamentally PREVENT has been falsely sold as ‘safeguarding’ and that untruth is now admitted. The government finally and unashamedly admits that the PREVENT strategy is solely a policing and surveillance tool.”

“The government ought to accept responsibility for driving alienation of minorities at home through draconian domestic policies. It must accept the wider repercussions of illegal wars and human rights abuses abroad. The first step towards that begins by abolishing PREVENT for good.”

“ CAGE has produced an eight-step framework towards building a healthy, safe society without PREVENT. This is only possible with the repeal of counter-terrorism laws, an ethical overhaul of British foreign policy, an end to austerity and the decoupling of public service from counter-terrorism entirely. ” [6]

 


[1] See timeline of over a decade of campaigning by CAGE on PREVENT: https://www.abolishprevent.com/timeline

[2] Read:  CAGE court victory exposes Charity Commission torture links https://woocommerce-150299-430654.cloudwaysapps.com/cage-court-victory-exposes-charity-commission-torture-links

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/16/charity-commission-inquiries-muslim-groups

[4] https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/stephen-cook-defeat-charity-commission-name/governance/article/1369774

[5] https://woocommerce-150299-430654.cloudwaysapps.com/prevent-is-about-policing-dissent-not-safeguarding

[6 ] See CAGE’s 8-point plan, which is endorsed by over 100 academics and campaigners to move beyond this legacy of failed policies and towards healthy, safe societies as outlined on our report “Beyond Prevent”. https://www.abolishprevent.com/8-point-plan

 

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)