Lefty lawyers at the Home Office ‘are blocking a major review into the Prevent anti-terror scheme’
- Charity Commission boss Shawcross will a publish review of the report in July
- The latest row comes days after Attorney General Suella Braverman warned that Government lawyers had to be ‘more attuned’ to the determination of Ministers
- Prevent’s efficacy was challenged as terrorists were on radar before attacks
Lawyers at the Home Office have been accused of trying to block a major report into the Prevent anti-terrorism programme by lodging a raft of objections.
The results of a review carried out by former Charity Commission boss William Shawcross are due to be published in July after an early draft was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel this month.
But sources claim ‘Left-leaning’ lawyers in her department raised so many challenges while fact-checking its findings that might never come out.
One said it left Mr Shawcross with no option but to stand up for the report, adding: ‘They have raised many objections that will water down the report unless he defends himself, which is what I think he will do. It means the report will get even more delayed. The way the lawyers are acting, it may never see the light of day.’
Prevent involves organisations such as schools and the police in stopping people becoming terrorists. But its effectiveness was challenged after it emerged that a string of terrorists, including two of those involved in the London Bridge terror attack in 2017 and the killer of MP David Amess, were on its radar before their attacks, but were not judged a danger.
Lawyers at the Home Office have been accused of trying to block a major report into the Prevent anti-terrorism programme by lodging a raft of objections. The results of a review carried out by former Charity Commission boss William Shawcross (pictured) are due to be published in July after an early draft was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel this month
The latest row comes days after Attorney General Suella Braverman warned that Government lawyers had to be ‘more attuned’ to the determination of Ministers to risk legal challenges to force through controversial legislation.
The Mail on Sunday understands that Mr Shawcross’s review will recommend that Prevent is ‘re-focused’ as a ‘counter- terrorism programme’ rather than a ‘safeguarding scheme’ – as was intended when it was launched in 2003.
‘It should focus on trying to stop people causing harm to the rest of society and not trying to safeguard individuals,’ said a source familiar with its contents.
‘Some of the individuals Prevent now treats should have been treated by mental health services years before.’
The report is also expected to recommend that Prevent should focus on Islamist extremists because they pose the most serious threat, comprising up to 80 per cent of police counter-terrorism investigations. More than half of all Prevent referrals involve far-Right extremism.
Sources say Mr Shawcross will recommend that Prevent abandons terms such as ‘safeguarding’ and ‘vulnerable’, which imply that extremists have no ‘individual agency’ about being radicalised.
An insider said: ‘Shawcross wants Prevent to use words like “susceptible”, which means the individual extremist does have agency, but he or she may just be more prone to becoming an extremist. This shift is important as it means extremists are not looked at as passive victims.’
Mr Shawcross is likely to take on critics of Prevent such as the Islamist groups Cage and Mend, which describe it as a ‘national spying programme on Muslims’, because he considers them unrepresentative of the wider Muslim community.
Professor Ian Acheson, a terrorism expert and former prison governor, said: ‘I think it’s crucial Shawcross is allowed to publish his report without it being watered down. Prevent must return to its roots as part of our national counter-terrorism strategy. The drift towards more safeguarding must be corrected and Prevent returned to stopping serious harm.’
The Home Office said: ‘The report is being finalised. Once formally received and after full consideration, the report and the Government’s response will be published.’
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