Leaked Prevent review attacks ‘double standards’ on rightwingers and Islamists

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The government’s counter-terrorism programme has been excessively focused connected rightwing extremism and should present ace down connected Islamism, according to leaked draught extracts from a landmark reappraisal of the Prevent strategy.

In 1 peculiarly provocative recommendation, seen by the Guardian, the reappraisal claims determination has been a “double standard” attack to tackling antithetic forms of extremism, with individuals targeted for expressing mainstream rightwing views due to the fact that the explanation of neo-nazism has expanded excessively widely, portion the absorption connected Islamism has been excessively narrow.

The leaks, from the government-commissioned Prevent reappraisal being carried retired by Sir William Shawcross, are apt to beryllium profoundly controversial. They travel days aft a mass shooting successful Buffalo, New York, wherever a self-confessed achromatic supremacist changeable 11 achromatic and 2 achromatic victims successful what authorities described arsenic a “racially motivated hatred crime”.

Sir Peter Fahy, the erstwhile constabulary pb for Prevent, said the reappraisal extracts suggested Shawcross’s findings were an unwarranted effort to “politicise counter-terrorism policing” and it was “quite unsafe to play disconnected 1 ideology against another”.

The draught Shawcross reappraisal besides claims:

  • A renewed absorption connected Islamist extremism is needed, including erstwhile individuals bash not yet conscionable the coercion threshold.

  • Individuals person been referred to Prevent, the government’s anti-extremism programme, to entree intelligence wellness enactment adjacent erstwhile determination is nary grounds of extremism.

  • Some Prevent-funded groups person promoted extremist narratives including enactment for the Taliban.

The long-delayed reappraisal by Shawcross, which was delivered to the Home Office astatine the extremity of April, has already drawn disapproval from civilian nine groups, dozens of whom person declined to participate.

Shawcross, a erstwhile caput of the foundation watchdog, has made arguable comments astir Islam. In 2012, arsenic a manager of the neoconservative thinktank the Henry Jackson Society, helium said: “Europe and Islam is 1 of the greatest, astir terrifying problems of our future. I deliberation each European countries person vastly, precise rapidly increasing Islamic populations.”

The fig of referrals to Prevent relating to far-right extremism exceeded those for Islamist radicalisation for the archetypal clip past year. Referrals for far-right threats from the Prevent programme to Channel, which provides much intensive intervention, had already outstripped Islamist radicalisation since 2020.

In Shawcross’s draught reappraisal of the Prevent programme, helium argues its intent indispensable beryllium refocused and says its archetypal nonsubjective to tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological situation of coercion “is not being sufficiently met”.

It argues that the programme indispensable re-engage with individuals who are not yet posing a panic menace but who tin “create an situation conducive to terrorism”.

One extract says Prevent has a “double modular erstwhile dealing with utmost rightwing and Islamism”. It says the programme has taken an expansive presumption connected rightwing terror, which has “been truthful wide it has included mildly arguable oregon provocative forms of mainstream, rightwing-leaning commentary that person nary meaningful transportation to coercion oregon radicalisation”.

However, it says a much hardline attack should beryllium taken towards Islamist extremism, and that the programme has concentrated connected proscribed organisations “ignoring Islamist narratives”.

The draught reappraisal is besides captious of Prevent-funded civilian nine organisations and assemblage projects, suggesting backing is misallocated to “generic” projects and fewer “could beryllium seen to publically contention extremist discourse”.

It recovered immoderate Prevent-funded programmes “have promoted extremist narratives, including statements that look supportive of the Taliban”. The draught says: “As a halfway rule the authorities indispensable cease to prosecute with oregon money those aligned with extremism.”

Another extract says Prevent is “carrying the weight” for overstretched intelligence wellness services and that susceptible radical person been referred successful bid to entree different forms of enactment adjacent erstwhile they bash not airs a coercion threat.

It is understood the study has been finalised by Shawcross and his team. It is inactive to beryllium fact-checked earlier being subjected to ineligible checks successful lawsuit immoderate idiosyncratic oregon radical tin assertion they person been libelled, which would perchance exposure the Home Office, which picked Shawcross for the relation contempt extended misgivings, to paying retired ineligible damages.

Fahy, a erstwhile main constable of Greater Manchester constabulary and caput of Prevent until 2015, told the Guardian: “There is simply a information of policing thought arsenic opposed to the hazard of violence. It is not astir ideology but astir the hazard idiosyncratic volition transverse into violence.

“It is astir threat, hazard and harm. We cognize determination has been an summation successful far-rightwing extremism successful the UK. The worst violent onslaught successful Europe was by a rightwing terrorist, Anders Breivik.

“It sounds to maine rather unsafe to play disconnected 1 ideology against another. There is simply a information this is an effort to politicise counter-terrorism policing. How are the constabulary expected to justice what is mainstream? Police run connected what is the likelihood of this idiosyncratic being drawn into violence, not whether their views are mainstream.”

The draught extracts are besides apt to rise eyebrows successful the quality services. Ken McCallum, the home spy agency’s manager general, precocious warned that utmost rightwing coercion accounted for 1 successful 5 of each counter-terrorism investigations, a menace that had “grown and morphed rather substantially implicit the past 5 to 10 years”.

A peculiar problem, helium said, was the “high prevalence” of teenagers successful rightwing coercion investigations, which helium suggested was due to the fact that youngsters were being swept up successful a “toxic ideology” of “online extremists and echo chambers”.

The Home Office has proscribed a fig of far-right groups successful caller years, including the neo-Nazi radical Sonnenkrieg Division, members of which person been jailed for superior offences. It besides recognised the utmost rightwing radical System Resistance Network arsenic an alias of the already proscribed organisation National Action.

Prevent came nether renewed scrutiny aft the execution of the Conservative MP David Amess, who was stabbed to decease successful his constituency country by Ali Harbi Ali, who said helium was motivated by Islamist extremism. His execution past twelvemonth was followed by different Islamist onslaught connected Liverpool women’s hospital.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Prevent remains a captious instrumentality for aboriginal involution and safeguarding. We volition not let extremists oregon terrorists to dispersed hatred oregon sow part and Prevent remains an important operator to assistance divert radical distant from harm.

“The autarkic reappraisal of Prevent, led by William Shawcross, volition guarantee we proceed to amended our effect and amended support radical from being drawn into poisonous and unsafe ideologies. The study is presently being finalised and erstwhile formally received and aft afloat consideration, the study and the government’s effect to it volition beryllium published.”