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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Councillor urges community leaders to understand the protocols and the impacts Prevent could have if case has no substance before referring to counter-terrorism

Prevent is a strategy which began in 2011 to counteract terrorism within the UK. The system was not only made to stop terrorists but to help those who support terrorism.

The main purpose of prevent was to firstly, respond to any ideological views and challenge them whenever they arise. Secondly, prevent gives a more practical help for people to not be drawn into terrorism and to ensure they are given the right advice and support. Thirdly, prevent works with a vast majority of sectors across the UK including education, criminal justice, faith centers, charities and anywhere else radicalization can occur.

Sessions of prevent can been delivered by the home office, local authorities and a wide range of government departments and community organisations. Individuals can also take up high speed training courses to learn about radicalisation and qualify to teach about prevent.

However, the Prevent strategy has come under fire, under claims of being a cover to spy on Muslim communities, despite figures showing that more Prevent referrals are linked to far-right extremism than Islamist.

There were 1,229 referrals owing to concerns related to extreme rightwing radicalisation in the year ending 31 March, and 1,064 because of suspected Islamist radicalisation, according to official figures published on Thursday 18 November.

Prevent has further been criticised by a Kirklees councillor.

At a recent Kirklees council meeting, a debate was held to focus on the justice of youth. Councillor Aafaq Butt addressed members of Kirklees council at Huddersfield Town Centre about the cases of how prevent has been used in ridiculous means at times.

Mr Butt addressed how in 2020, 532 referrals were made to Prevent which were of individuals aged 6 and under. A further 1108 referrals took place for the age group of six to nine.

A shocking number which Mr Butt believes due to the lack of understanding as to when to use prevent which has costed hundreds of pounds in resources.

He further explains the story of a 4-year-old boy who was referred to Prevent after drawing a picture of his father cutting an innocent cucumber, but nursery staff believed it was a drawing of this young boys Father holding a bomb.

Mr Butt explains, “We need to have a comprehensive strategy in combatting radicalisation in young people but not allow prevent to become a means of cracking a nut with a sledgehammer”.

When asked about how schools could learn more about prevent and when to use prevent, he stated, “having a more common-sense approach is key. Don’t just refer to prevent without hesitation but understand the protocols and the impacts it could have if the case has no substance to it. If you’re in a school setting, then understand the psychological impact it could have on a student if they’re referred to prevent without doing anything wrong”.

“Learn from your superiors before you take matters into your own hands and work as a team to resolve matters before escalating things further”.

Mr Butt was very optimistic about local faith centres getting involved to reduce terrorism or terrorist beliefs such as, “As a forty-year-old man who didn’t learn about radicalisation when I was in mosque I think it’s so important to learn these things. Not only learning about my beautiful religion of Islam and it’s teachings but learning how terrorism would have been vital as a kid”.

“As important as it is to learn about Islam and to pray, we need to also teach our kids how it’s so important to know what terrorism is and why it’s bad”.

He adds, “This isn’t only in the Muslim community but religious leaders from all faiths need to come together and work as a team to stop this. If we work together, we reduce the chances of terrorism”.

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