After consulting its 15 members FORMO has issued a joint letter on their behalf to council leaders and MPs strongly condemning Prevent, the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy. Many concerns and questions have been raised and a meeting to address these points has been requested with the council.
Full text of letter below.
22nd February 2017 Jas Athwal, Leader of the Council Redbridge Borough Council Town Hall 128-142 High Road Ilford IG1 1DD
Dear Mr Athwal,
I am writing in relation to Prevent, the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, to register concerns on behalf of the Redbridge Muslim community.
There is now a growing body of evidence and informed opinion against the effectiveness of Prevent. To cite a few examples:
- 360 leading Professors, Academics, professionals in terrorism and community leaders have called for an end to Prevent based on academic research which suggests the Prevent strategy is flawed, amongst other factors
- David Anderson QC, appointed by the government to review our anti-terrorism laws, has raised concern that elements of Prevent were “ineffective or being applied in an insensitive or discriminatory manner”
- A former chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee has said that he would abolish Prevent and start again
The above shortcomings have been recognised to such an extent that an Early Day Motion has been tabled in Parliament, supported by Wes Streeting MP for Ilford North among other MPs, calling on ministers to scrap Prevent in its entirety. This is a viewpoint shared by me and the majority of the Muslims in Redbridge and across the country.
A big factor in relation to the above strength of feeling is that Prevent disproportionately targets the Muslim community and is sowing mistrust and fear, particularly in relation to younger adults and children.
I recognise that Prevent is a statutory obligation upon councils but this should not detract from it being condemned for its increasingly hurtful impact on the community, including psychological harm.
I would encourage the council to carry out its obligations here in a sympathetic manner involving all members of the community and to discharge these obligations as much as possible by applying safeguarding policies that have pre-dated Prevent and have proven effectiveness; more than anything, the radicalisation of the misguided in our communities should be seen as a safeguarding issue to be dealt with under existing polices.
I would further encourage the council and other statutory organisations to trust Muslim groups and work as true partners on this rather than from a position of suspicion. An obvious area of co-operation would be for there to be a working group of trusted Muslim representatives to assess Prevent referrals and hence negate at an early stage inappropriate referrals, to limit the damage that they do.
The council should also recognise the impact of Prevent on families that have been unfairly targeted and provide appropriate support and care in conjunction with the local community.
On behalf of the Muslim community I look forward to discussing with council officials how to move forward with the various points included in this letter.
Wes Streeting MP
Mike Gapes MP
The Editor, Ilford Recorder