RNA - The research, which was commissioned by the criminal justice think tank, Crest Advisory, purports to show that British Muslims are more likely to tip off the scheme when they come across a “radicalized” individual.
Our new report, ‘Listening to British Muslims: policing, extremism and Prevent’, reveals that common narratives about British Muslims’ views on extremism and the Prevent programme are fundamentally flawed.
— CREST (@CrestAdvisory) March 2, 2020
But the “research” behind this bold assertion is severely, if not fatally, undermined by the fact that the “charitable trust” which funded it cannot be identified “for security reasons”.
Beyond the all-important issue of anonymity, the “research” suffers from two other major flaws. Foremost, the majority of the people it claims to have questioned hadn’t even heard of Prevent – 55 percent of Muslims and 68 percent of the general population.
Therefore, the majority of the respondents are in no position to offer an informed opinion on the merits (or lack thereof) of the counter-extremism scheme.
Moreover, the research offers a “neutral explanation” of Prevent to respondents, in other words it does not explain the highly charged political and ideological context whence the scheme originated.
Based on that “neutral explanation”, the research claims that 80 percent of British Muslims and 85 percent of the wider public “broadly support” the scheme.
Furthermore, the research claims that 67 percent of the British Muslims surveyed said they would inform the authorities about individual cases of “radicalisation” (in other words they’d actively cooperate with Prevent), as opposed to 63 percent of the wider public.
According to Crest Advisory, the research process was led by the London-based market research consultancy firm, Savanta Comres. The latter conducted interviews with “representative samples” of British Muslims in October and November 2019.
Researchers from Savanta Comres also held focus group discussions in London, Slough, Watford, Bradford, Birmingham, Oldham, Cardiff and Glasgow.
Owing to the “anonymous” nature of the project’s funding, this latest research has given rise to suspicions that it is part of the British counter-terrorism industry’s attempt to clean up Prevent’s image.
Originally launched in 2003, Prevent is a key strand of CONTEST, the UK’s core counter-terrorism strategy. The stated purpose of Prevent is to identify, challenge and ultimately “treat” individuals who are deemed to be at risk of “radicalization”.
Prevent purports to work in the pre-criminal space, well before at-risk individuals have crossed the boundary into outright criminality and terrorism.
But since its foundation, Prevent has been met by fierce resistance by a broad range of British Muslim groups which dismiss the scheme as “toxic” in so far as it is allegedly a cover for ideological repression and spying.
Critics of Prevent also include senior police officers, notably Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent, who previously chaired the National Association of Muslim Police.
Babu has derided the latest pro-Prevent “research” as an attempt to "mislead and conflate safeguarding with the Prevent programme" which "does not have the trust of the community".
"Unfortunately this clumsy, misleading report will lead to further evidence of the authorities failing to engage with communities and develop a system for preventing terrorism from where it comes", Babu added.