Britain bet on a key anti-radicalization program, intended to encourage members of the Muslim community to tip off authorities, to help it deal with potential terrorist threats. However, a new report suggests the scheme is failing miserably.
It turns out that only 8.6 percent of all tip-offs come from community, family friends, and faith leaders – the prime candidates for participation in the initiative. Less than 300 tip-offs to the UK’s Prevent program came from such sources in six months, The Times reports.
Over 90 percent came from the general public, schools, and even the NHS, in addition to hundreds of referrals made directly to police that were not included in the statistics.
Prevent – as with the American tipoff programs set up in the aftermath of 9/11 – was meant to become a bridge to the Muslim population. However, experts have noted a great degree of distrust towards the scheme, and even the belief that it is racist by nature.
The initiative has drawn criticism from rights advocates and Muslims at large, with its tipoff hotline feature the most controversial issue.
This lack of trust has led some prominent Muslim organizations to boycott the program altogether, including one in Waltham that is involved in the community life of thousands of Muslims in East London. Muslim leaders in Newham also came dangerously close to calling for a boycott after accusations arose claiming that the program was “spying on our young people.”
Students and imams came out in London in early December to voice protest against the controversial program. “Let us come together, spread the word and show that we are Students Not Suspects!” a Facebook page coordinating a national day of action read. Various forms of protest – online and otherwise – have been seen across the country.
The current figures on Prevent come despite a much more positive-sounding October report, which was compiled using statistics from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC). Those figures showed around eight referrals per day being received under the Channel program – the initiative that takes care of the more serious cases and which usually receives referrals from Prevent. There were apparently more referrals this summer alone than in all of 2012-2013, when the program was set up.
However, even then it was apparent that schools were still grappling with their newly mandated responsibility to keep a close watch on youths in danger of being radicalized. Some became overzealous in their approach and wrongfully interpreted behavior, as in one case concerning a 14-year-old student who was questioned about having possible sympathies with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) after using the term “eco-terrorism” in a French class. He was pulled out of a class, and a child prosecution officer got involved, causing the…