There have been five terror attacks in England since the turn of the year, including a bomb on the London Underground at Parsons Green this month, and six more in the years since the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
Since then the government’s Prevent strategy has been the central plank of efforts to prevent radicalisation and tackle extremism, with councils playing a central role in its delivery.
In LGC’s survey of 251 council chiefs, service directors and senior managers, most (46%) said the Prevent strategy has had little to no impact and should be changed. Even the 22% who said Prevent has had a positive impact – the second most popular choice – still thought it should be altered.
While “a lot of the work done through the Prevent programme is good”, said one respondent, “it is strongly distrusted by the local Muslim community and this needs changing for it to be more successful”.
Another officer said the Muslim population in their area had “felt very discriminated against” by Prevent, while another said: “It focuses almost exclusively on Islamic terrorism but in our area far right and racist terrorism is a much bigger problem.”
One officer said Prevent “has become a divisive programme and past the point at which it can be considered useful”, while another warned: “The programme increases the risk of susceptible individuals being radicalised.”
Summing the mood up, one officer said: “The Prevent brand is toxic in some communities and only aids the extremists. We need a broad agenda which all communities can support and which is sufficiently funded.”
That view was echoed by another officer who said: “Community policing is powerless to stop the violence and at the other end of the spectrum, councils lack resources to safeguard the most vulnerable from their victimisation.”
LGC survey: Fewer than one in four say Prevent has positive impact