A SENIOR Scotland Yard police officer has defended the government’s much-criticised counterterrorism programme Prevent.
The declared aim of the £40 million strategy is to stop people — particularly schoolchildren and students — from being radicalised and groomed for terrorism and other extremist activities.
It was published by the Home Office in 2011 under the Con-Dem coalition government.
Although government said it was directed against all forms of extremism, within months it was criticised as “toxic,” being used principally to target Muslim communities.
Criticism followed that the divisive initiative is being continued despite no evidence being produced as to the effectiveness of the strategy.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said yesterday: “There is growing criticism from within communities and from counterradicalisation experts who say that Prevent is alienating whole layers of the population.
“If the government has any evidence of Prevent’s success, it should publish it. So far, it has failed to do so.
“Labour in government will conduct a thorough review of the Prevent strategy,” she vowed.
Ms Abbott was responding to comments from a police commander who has defended the strategy in a BBC TV interview.
Commander Dean Haydon said criticism of the programme was based on ignorance, adding that some criticism came from parts of the community that “don’t want Prevent to work in the first place.”
He said Prevent was not about spying on people but about keeping them safe, and said it had achieved “fantastic” results.
Police say Prevent is a crucial plank of wider counterextremism efforts.