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Anti-terror programme 'not doing enough' to tackle Islamist extremists


The Government’s anti-terror programme is not doing enough to tackle Islamist extremism, a review has found.

The findings of the long-awaited assessment of the Prevent programme – which aims to stop people turning to terrorism – also recommends a series of reforms.

Led by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross after being ordered by former home secretary Priti Patel in 2019, the review found Prevent “is not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism” and “has a double standard when dealing with the Extreme Right-Wing and Islamism”.

Among the findings in the wide-ranging review, the report said: “Challenging extremist ideology should not be limited to proscribed organisations but should also cover domestic extremists operating below the terrorism threshold who can create an environment conducive to terrorism.”

It added: “Prevent takes an expansive approach to the extreme right-wing, capturing a variety of influences that, at times, has been so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, right-wing leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation.

“However, with Islamism, Prevent tends to take a much narrower approach centred around proscribed organisations, ignoring the contribution of non-violent Islamist narratives and networks to terrorism.

“Prevent must ensure a consistent and evidence-based approach to setting its threshold and criteria, and ensure it does not overlook key non-violent radicalising influences.”

The Government has accepted all 34 recommendations made in the 188-page report.

The Home Office said it would “overhaul” Prevent in the fight against radicalisation and that the Home Secretary had “committed to delivering wholesale and rapid change” across the programme.

Suella Braverman said: “Prevent will now ensure it focuses on the key threat of Islamist terrorism.

“As part of this more proportionate approach, we will also remain vigilant on emerging threats, including on the extreme right.

“This independent review has identified areas where real reform is required. This includes a need for Prevent to better understand Islamist ideology, which underpins the predominant terrorist threat facing the UK.

“I wholeheartedly accept all 34 recommendations and am committed to quickly delivering wholesale change to ensure we are taking every possible step to protect our country from the threat posed by terrorism.”