Government accused of ‘complacency’ over Prevent review
The Labour Party has accused the government of ‘incompetence and complacency’ in its handling of an independent review of Prevent, following further delays to its completion.
The review was first announced in January 2019 but has since been beset by delays. In December last year, Lord Carlile, chair of the review, stepped down and the Home Office took four months to find a replacement.
Since then, the government has extended the window for applications from 1 June to 22 June with the final interviews not taking place until the end of July. A Counter Terrorism and Sentencing B, due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 9 June, seeks to remove a statutory deadline for ministers to respond to the review’s findings.
Activists and civil liberties organisations have been calling for a review of Prevent for years, claiming that the programme, which aims to divert vulnerable individuals from being radicalised, fosters discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background. As part of its work, the Prevent programme maintains a statutory duty imposed on schools, NHS trusts, prisons, local authorities and other public bodies to report concerns about people they suspect may be at risk of turning to extremism.
Conor McGinn, Labour’s Shadow Security Minister, said: “The Prevent review should have finished its work and reported to ministers this month, but the government’s incompetence and complacency means it won’t even have started. The introduction of a new Counter Terrorism Bill before the Prevent review has even begun underlines just how much time the government has wasted. Ministers must ensure there are no further delays or they will risk further undermining the credibility of the review and their own counter-terrorism strategy.”