In July of this year, I posted a blog asking the question in relation to the revelation that PREVENT was underpinned by a theory (Extremist Risk Guidance – ERG22+) formulated by British psychiatrists, What would these US psychologists make of Britain’s PREVENT Strategy? The American professors bluntly stated that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda was “at best misguided, and at worst, vicious.”
The Pseudo-Science of PREVENT
CAGE’s devastating expose – The Science of Pre-Crime: The ‘Secret’ radicalisation study underpinning Prevent’– proves that Britain’s CVE – PREVENT – really is indeed, misguided, resulting in decisions which are vicious. The report exposes a 2010 study authored by two psychologists who are linked to the national security industry, Monica Lloyd and Christopher Dean, and used to formulate the pre-crime intervention model ERG22+. Shockingly the authors themselves admitted that the research was lacking. Below are key quotes taken from the study:
“The current lack of demonstrated reliability and validity remains the main limitation of the ERG at this time. It remains essentially a qualitative tool that requires a level of professional judgment and experience to be effectively used.”
““The ERG is work in progress…”
“There remain important questions to be explored, most notably around reliability and validity,”
The study is fraught with further problems, some of which I have summarised and listed below:
- Data is based discriminatorily on twenty Muslim prisoners convicted of terrorism.
- Not all those convicted of terror-related offences are violent offenders.
- The study ignores possibility of response bias (the extent to which prisoners provided answers that they felt the authorities wanted to hear)
- The authors admit excluding political context as a specific factor
- The authors, coming from a forensic perspective, leads them to “pathologise and look for explanations at the individual level” which results in applying a “very static and de-contextualised understanding as to why individuals become involved in political violence.”
- The limited scope of the study which is problematic for specialists to implement is now being extrapolated to children in schools and patients in hospitals.
- The limited scope of the study has been stretched to “all forms of extremism”
The Dangerous Implications of ERG
Highlighting the manifest danger of PREVENT, Professor Arun Kundnani wrote,
“With hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in Britain now required to absorb the government’s Extremist Risk Guidance and apply it in their work, the dangers of this research have never been greater.”
Also worth noting is that ERG is also being used in child law cases and determining the wardship of children. Remarking on the secretive, untested nature of ERG, Professor Adam Geary is quoted in the foreword of the report as stating,
“The limits of the ERG research used to create state duties raises profound questions about transparency and accountability… Seemingly, a line of recent case law suggests that individuals and families are being brought before secret courts on the basis of definitions derived from classified research, and thus raises immediate concerns in relation to our justice system.”
The clear implication of the above is that shoddy pre-crime science is potentially resulting in miscarriages of justice, with children being removed from families on the basis that their parents pose an “extremism” threat.
The Comical Home Office Spin and the Non-Academic Study!
The thoroughly surgical report has been reviewed by eighteen professors and academics, has forewords penned by noted professors, and is backed by a joint-statement by over 150 professors and academics including Marc Sageman and Noam Chomsky. In other words, it carries considerable PREVENT-crushing weight.
In the face of this, there is only so much spin the Home Office and RICU – its propaganda department – can issue before it begins to look rather ridiculous. If the Home Office statement is anything to go by, it seems this farcical state was unavoidable.
The Home Office responded by stating,
“The guidance that is used was based on a peer-reviewed study, carried out to meticulous academic guidelines and published in two publicly available academic journals.”
However, in the very same report, the Guardian sought the views from one of the study’s authors, Monica Lloyd. According to Lloyd, the original study was “not an academic piece of work” but instead was an internal report by practitioners that was “done to the highest standard it could be done”.
Lloyd’s statement not only directly contradicts the Home Office, which claims that the guidance is based on an academic, peer-reviewed study, but it also reinforces the baselessness of PREVENT by clearly saying that the “study” is in fact an “internal report” which is not academic at all!
There is simply no coming back from this. Some PREVENT-pushers have sought to deflect the report’s piercing findings through peripheral points which upon closer inspection, are hokum, (one individual on social media claimed the study was not secretive – directly contradicting the author’s claims directly quoted in the report). However, such efforts are simply embarrassing, reflecting the derelict state of the fatally wounded PREVENT Strategy.
Pertinently, such questions are also irrelevant. As the report incisively notes, “what is relevant now is for the government to answer difficult questions on how it came to institute a policy of assessing pre-criminal behaviour in 2011 using the ERG, when in 2015 the authors of that study were hesitant of its wider efficacy.”
The level of urgency for answers is accentuated given the disastrous consequences of PREVENT. From child psychological abuse in schools, to securitisation of purportedly confidential charities like the NSPCC; from the normalisation of political Islamophobia to the pecuniary and reputational losses suffered by Muslim teachers due to their privately held religious beliefs; from the castigation of political views on Palestine and shaping Muslim discourse and beliefs, to restriction of political participation of teenage Muslims who have already come into contact with PREVENT. PREVENT has and continues to leave a trail of neocon closed society destruction in its wake.
When fake, ventriloquised “experts” like Sara Khan are paraded for days on disparate news channels regurgitating lines most likely authored for her by the Home Office in defence of PREVENT, it is a damning indictment of mainstream media that the report and its findings have not been reported in all major outlets (the “impartial” BBC, the Times, the Telegraph have not reported on it at the time of writing). However, this is not a stumbling block in the efforts to resist and ultimately remove PREVENT. The movement against PREVENT has always been a grassroots, civil society-led one. It must continue to remain so, with or without the support of propaganda outlets.
PREVENT is an unjust strategy which has shredded the rule of law. Those Muslims – including Muslim organisations which claim to represent Muslims in Britain – whom support PREVENT or its reincarnation, must now accept that there is no more room for excuses. Support of such failed, groundless strategies is support for the discrimination and persecution of the Muslim minority, intended or otherwise.
Civil servants and employees of public institutions and schools should reject the implementation of PREVENT on peaceful civil disobedience grounds until the law placing the PREVENT duty on statutory footing is abolished and the Strategy of stigmatisation is completely scrapped. This may seem like a drastic step, however, it is a necessary one, for relationships which hold society together are being torn apart through the atmosphere of suspicion fostered by PREVENT. Such damage will take years if not decades to heal.
Now is the time to say no to the British neo-Stasi state. Now is the time to end PREVENT.