Vast majority of deradicalisation programmes ‘ineffective’

Damning Home Office report raises serious questions about flagship Prevent

The threat from far-right extremism has grown in recent years
The threat of far-right extremism has grown in the UK in recent years
(Image credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The vast majority of deradicalisation programmes are ineffective and even counterproductive, a damning report commissioned by the Home Office has found.

Of the 33 government-funded programmes designed to safeguard vulnerable people from far-right and religious extremist threats which were analysed, only two were found to be effective, The Times reports.

The study by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), identified failures in approach to deradicalisation in schools, youth centres, sports clubs and English-language classes.

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Participants in the study felt their freedom of expression had been restricted and teachers would refuse to engage in topics over fears of bringing up matters of race and religion without appearing discriminatory.

The Daily Express says that until the “shock intervention” by BIT, many of these programmes had claimed a success rate of more than 90% “after self-evaluation”.

The Times says the findings “raise questions about the government’s Prevent programme”, its controversial flagship counter-extremism initiative.

The scheme, which was brought in after the 7/7 bombings to deal with threats from Islamist and far-right extremism, has since expanded to make it a statutory duty for schools, hospitals, prisons and local authorities to report concerns about those at risk of turning to extremism.

This has led to accusations the government is forcing teachers to spy on their pupils, doctors on patients, as well as effectively criminalising specific communities – which in turn drives them towards radicalisation.

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, this week threw his support behind the programme as he unveiled the government’s revamped counter-terrorism strategy.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, has called for Prevent to be reviewed, and claimed that it can be counterproductive; but Javid reaffirmed his commitment to the scheme saying “misapprehensions around Prevent are often based on distortions”.

Opacity and prejudice surrounding Prevent from both sides has so far shielded it from scrutiny, but the latest figures raise serious questions about its value.

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