Thomas, Paul (2014) Britain’s Prevent Programme: An End in Sight? In: Critical Perspectives on Counter Terrorism. Routledge Critical Terrorism Studies . Routledge, London, UK, pp. 169-186. ISBN 978-0-415-85547-1

This chapter critiques the UK’s Prevent programme since its inception in 2006, and argues that it has been significantly flawed and counter-productive from the start through its partial, monocultural focus on Muslims as an entire and undifferentiated ‘suspect’ community. This focus on, and interference in, British Muslim communities may well have fuelled precisely the separation from and suspicion of the state and wider society which Prevent claimed to address, fatally damaging the flow of human intelligence vital to countering domestic terrorism. This approach has provoked resentment within Muslim communities and ‘resource envy’ from other communities, so perpetuating exactly the sort of divisive policy approaches to ethnic identity which the post 2001 riots analysis of ‘community cohesion’ identified. The chapter suggests that Prevent, for those reasons, has been contradictory and damaging to parallel policy attempts to promote ‘cohesion’ and that the 2011 Prevent Review’s attempts to differentiate Prevent and Cohesion made things worse, not better. The Chapter argues that Prevent is a fatally damaged and ineffective programme that needs to be allowed to die a natural death. Instead, the only meaningful approach to ‘preventing violent extremism’ amongst young people must be one of promoting genuine democratic engagement and political debate amongst young people through processes of ‘contact’ that enable real learning and understanding of difference within society.

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