The government’s anti-terror strategy has become “a toxic brand”, a Muslim former senior police officer has said. Dal Babu, a chief superintendent until 2013, said many Muslims did not trust the “Prevent” strategy and many saw it as a form of spying.
The Home Office says there are now Prevent programmes in place in all key sectors, including local government, health, education, prisons, immigration and charities. But Mr Babu, who retired from the Metropolitan Police two years ago, said cases like those of the three London schoolgirls who have gone to Syria had caught the authorities unaware.
He said because police counter-terrorism units were mainly white, with few Muslim officers, they did not fully understand issues of race, Islam and gender.He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Prevent, when it was introduced, was a good idea. It is about engagement of local communities. But over the years it has become less and less trusted.Cameras were implemented, without the community understanding them, in Muslim areas of Birmingham.”
Mizahur Rahman, who underwent a deradicalisation programme after serving a prison term for soliciting to murder, told the BBC that the Prevent programme was never going to work as there was an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
The Home Office spokesperson defended the programme in a statement: “This Government fundamentally revised the Prevent strategy in 2011 to ensure it challenges terrorist ideology, supports people who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and works with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.