Scarman lecture 2022: Preventing equal participation. How the government’s Prevent strategy undermines democracy.

Event date
28 September 2022
Event time
17:00 - 18:00
Oxford week
MT -1
Faculty Members
Members of the University
Postgraduate Students
Undergraduate Students
Various, Various
Scarman lecture 2022: Preventing equal participation. How the government’s Prevent strategy undermines democracy. About this event Preventing equal participation. How the government’s Prevent strategy undermines democracy This year's Scarman lecture brings together Lord Scarman’s concern with arbitrary state power and institutionalised racism (with a focus on Islamophobia) in criticism of the government’s current Prevent strategy (and its likely hard-line extension once the Shawcross review is published). Prevent is directed at a pre-criminal space where no offences have been committed or even intended. As new terrorist offences are identified and new laws criminalising protest are introduced, the field of operation of Prevent is also extended. Prevent is directed at perceived extremist ‘ideologies’ on the assumption that they may draw some vulnerable individuals into violent terrorism offences. Over a third of Prevent referrals are of children under the age of 16, while fewer than 5% lead to a Channel intervention (where the threshold of risk is deemed to have been met, but even here, no offence has been committed or intended). The criteria used in the assessment of individuals for a Prevent intervention are drawn from studies of non-violent terrorist offenders, but are applied to individuals expressing lawful views. The criteria used have little inter-subjective validity when used by the many people supposedly trained to put Prevent into practice, thereby increasing the likelihood of discriminatory judgements. The response of government is not to address discrimination, but to provide more central direction, with the aim of increasing the focus on British Muslims. Successive Independent Reviewers of Terrorism Legislation (as well as human rights lawyers and NGOs) have criticised the expansion of counter terrorism legislation, and commented on the lack of statutory oversight of Prevent (which falls outside their remit). Given the nature of Prevent, it is doubtful that it could be put on a proper statutory footing, but the response of think tanks like Policy Exchange is to suggest that, just as terrorist organisations are proscribed, so there should be a similar ‘proscription’ of civil society organisations if they criticise government policy on Prevent. This would exclude them from engagement by local and national government and from receipt of public funding. Significantly, the proposal is directed only at Muslim charities and NGOs. It is for this reason that we argue that Prevent threatens rights of equal participation in civil society and is an affront to democracy. Please join us for a 35 minute discussion(followed by questions), chaired by Dr Chris Allen with the following experts: Dr Layla Aitlhadj who is the Director and Senior Caseworker at Prevent Watch where she supports people adversely impacted by the Prevent Duty. Layla has published extensively on Prevent and the broader Counter-Terrorism legislation across multiple platforms. She has edited lengthier academic reports and led more in-depth advocacy-based research. Together with Professor John Holmwood, she is co-Director of the People’s Review of Prevent set up as an alternative to the Shawcross Review following the boycott of the latter by Muslim NGOs and wider Civil Society groups, such as Liberty and Amnesty International. Professor John Holmwood who is a professor emeritus in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. He has served as expert witness for the defence in misconduct cases brought against teachers accused of a plot to ‘Islamicise’ schools in Birmingham. Together with Therese O’Toole, he is author of Countering Extremism in Birmingham Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair (Policy Press, 2018). Moderated questions from the audience will also be catered for in the final 25 mins of the session. Please email to submit any questions for the panel by the 19th September 2022. This event will take place via Microsoft Teams and an invite will be sent shortly before the lecture takes place. Please be aware if using a laptop/desktop you can log into the meeting via both the web and app versions of Teams. If using a phone please download the Teams app from the playstore before the event.

This event

Organised by
University of Leicester

Found within

General Interest