The current threat level to the UK from international terrorism is severe. The most significant international terrorism threat to the UK remains violent extremism associated with and influenced by Al Qa'ida.
The Prevent strategy, launched in 2007, seeks to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. It is the preventative strand of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.
Last year, the government launched a review in to the Prevent strategy. This review has been independently overseen by Lord Carlile of Berriew.
The review found that the previous Prevent programme we inherited from the last government was flawed. It confused the delivery of government policy to promote integration with government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to tackle the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face, and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.
The Prevent strategy 2011
The Prevent strategy has now been re-focused. It is guided by a number of key principles:
First, Prevent will remain an integral part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.
Second, Prevent will address all forms of terrorism, including the extreme right wing.
However, it is clear that Prevent work must be targeted against those forms of terrorism that pose the greatest risk to our national security. Currently, the greatest threat comes from Al Qa’ida, its affiliates and like-minded groups.
Third, Prevent will tackle non-violent extremism where it creates an environment conducive to terrorism and popularises ideas that are espoused by terrorist groups.
Fourth, Prevent will make a clearer distinction between our counter-terrorist work and our integration strategy. Prevent depends on the success of that strategy. But the two cannot be confused or merged together. Failure to appreciate the distinction risks securitising integration and reducing the chances of our success.
Fifth, the new Prevent must do much better in evaluating and monitoring progress against a common set of objectives. Money has been wasted. That must stop.
Finally, public money will not be provided to extremist organisations who do not support the values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and mutual respect and tolerance of different faith groups.
Objectives of the new Prevent strategy
The strategy now contains three objectives, these are to:
- respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat from those who promote it
- prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support
- work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to address
The Lord Carlile review
Lord Carlile has said that the Prevent strategy has his full support. He said: 'It provides a template for challenging the extremist ideas and terrorist actions which seek to undermine the rule of law and fundamental British political values and institutions.'