Thomas, Paul (2009) Submission to the Communities and Local Government Committee in response to the call for evidence around the Government’s ‘Prevent’ programme: September 2009. Documentation. House of Commons. (Unpublished)

This Submission argues that, as it is currently constituted, the Prevent programme is not the most effective way of addressing the undoubted problem of the attraction to violent extremist ideologies of a minority of young people, and that, indeed, there is real likelihood of Prevent having a counter-productive impact through working in contradiction to the overarching policy goals of cohesion and integration. Here, it is argued that there should be less distinction between Prevent and Cohesion, rather than more, in terms of educational interventions with young people. This argument is based on significant primary research around work with young people in West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, not only around Prevent itself, but also around the impact of community cohesion programmes, the understandings of ‘Identity’ held by young people, and previous attempts to operationalise ‘anti-racist’ educational programmes amongst white young people attracted to violent racist ideologies. This primary research shows Prevent programmes to be working with large numbers of Muslim young people in monocultural settings without effectively engaging with the actual issues and perceptions driving the groundswell of support for extremist ideologies. Not only is this counter to the goals of, and positive evidence around, community cohesion programmes, but it runs the real risk of creating a further ‘backlash’ amongst some alienated white young people. Here, the recent decision to ‘extend’ Prevent to far-right 'extremism' is helpful, but still does not address the root problems of a mis-constructed policy ( ‘Government 'Prevent' strategy widened to combat rightwing racism’


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