THE government’s anti-radicalisation strategy Prevent was labelled a “toxic brand” yesterday by a Muslim former senior police officer.
Retired Met police chief superintendent and former Association of Muslim Officers chair Dal Babu said most Muslims saw the £40-million-yearly scheme as an excuse for spying on them.
Prevent is one of four strands of Contest, the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and is aimed at stopping people becoming terrorists.
But the programme has come under the spotlight after hundreds of Britons are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State, including three London schoolgirls who fled Britain last month.
“Sadly, Prevent has become a toxic brand and most Muslims are suspicious of what Prevent is doing,” said Mr Babu.
“This is unfortunate but a reality and the government needs to develop a co-ordinated strategy to safeguard vulnerable children who are being groomed by Islamic State.
“Many Muslims see Prevent as spying and those Muslim organisations who have taken Prevent funding have a considerable credibility gap within the Muslim community.”
He added that there was a “lack of knowledge” around race and faith issues which was “amplified considerably with the more junior officers who perform the role of implementing the Prevent strategy.”
Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) vice-president Sir Peter Fahy defended Prevent and said parents must take responsibility for ensuring their children are not radicalised.
The Home Office is drawing up a new strategy which deals with “the whole spectrum of extremism.”