Channel – now it’s getting worse
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday August 24 2016
The Times reports on the release of figures by the National Police Chiefs Council on the number of individuals referred to the Prevent-linked Channel programme who have refused to participate in the “supportive intervention” packages designed by the programme’s multi-agency panels.
The Channel programme has long been regarded as one of the most problematic aspects of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy with the number of referrals to the programme vastly exceeding the number of individuals assessed to be in need of “supportive intervention” to tackle an identified “vulnerability to radicalisation”, and evidence of Muslim pupils being disproportionately targeted for referral.
Previous figures released by the NPCC have shown that around 80% of referrals made to the Channel programme are redundant. The programme has also been roundly criticised for the basis on which Muslim pupils have been referred, for example, for sporting pro-Palestinian political attitudes or for spelling and pronunciation errors where terraced house and cucumber have been mistaken for “terrorist house” and “cooker bomb”.
The Times reports that of the 245 individuals offered support by a Channel panel between 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, 117 declined to participate, that is almost half.
The NPCC figures were released in response to an FOI from BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.
The Prevent strategy, of which the Channel programme is a component, has been challenged by a number of civil and human rights organisations over its discriminatory profiling of Muslims and its breaching human rights frameworks on freedom of religion, conscience and belief, freedom from discrimination and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (UNCRC). The Government which has been urged to carry out a full independent review of Prevent has preferred to dig its head in the sand and persist with widening the scope of the strategy by introducing the Prevent statutory duty in 2015.
The figures released by the NPCC shed some light on the often magnified problem of “radicalisation”, with The Times reporting earlier this year that “five children a day” were being reported to Channel. The present disclosure reveals that only 245 people were recorded as being offered support under Channel in the last financial year though The Times’ report last month, referring to a different FOI response, noted that there were “3,955 referrals made to the Channel programme between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015.”
While a direct comparison between the number of supportive interventions (245) and the number of referrals (3,955) is not possible, given the different timeframes, the data certainly suggests that the introduction of the Prevent statutory duty has worsened the rate of redundant referrals.
The huge disparity in the numbers being reported and the numbers being offered support, and the failure of almost half of the cohort to take up the offer of support will further strengthen calls for the Channel programme to be suspended and a full-scale review of Prevent commissioned.