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“Five children a day” referred to Channel

“Five children a day” referred to Channel

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday June 21 2016

The Times (£) reports on the release of data on Channel referrals in 2015 by the National Police Chiefs Council under a Freedom of information request. The Channel programme is part of the Prevent strategy and entails referrals from various public bodies of individuals suspected of “vulnerability to radicalisation” for “supportive interventions” as deemed necessary by a multi agency safeguarding panel.

According to the published data, there were 3,955 referrals made to the Channel programme between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015.

Of these, 788 were made in the West Midlands region of which 354 involved a referral from a “school or educational establishment”.

The numbers of those individuals recorded as being of Muslim faith from the 788 referrals in West Midlands were 293.

The FOI further discloses the number of referrals by other religious categories, including “not known” which after Muslims is the second highest number at 177. The data release usefully discloses that religion is not a mandatory category and therefore is not always completed by those making a referral.

The data release shows there were 68 referrals in the West Midlands in 2015 of children aged 0-9. The bulk of referrals in the West Midlands were of children aged 10-14 and 15-19 with 183 and 235 referrals respectively.

The Times draws on further figures stating the number of children referred to Channel in the last year was 1,041 amounting to “five children a day”.

The paper further notes that further education colleges made 180 referrals, compared with five in 2012 and higher education institutions reported 76 students in the last year. The health service had 228 referrals according to the paper, with Local authorities also reporting 284 people.

In July 2015, the Prevent statutory duty came into force on “specified authorities” compelling them to have “due regard” to prevent individuals “from being drawn into terrorism”.

The duty has seen huge numbers of individuals referred for no good reason with 80% of referrals rejected as unwarranted. The Channel programme has been widely discredited for criminalising the innocent and restricting free speech with a number of cases of individuals being referred for mispronouncing words, misspelling words, and for expressing political views favourable toward Palestinians.

The Prevent strategy has been criticised by the Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham as counter productive. In a speech delivered earlier this month Burnham said “The Prevent duty to report extremist behaviour is today’s equivalent of internment in Northern Ireland – a policy felt to be highly discriminatory against one section of the community.”

The Times, nevertheless, in an editorial backs the policy saying “It is easy and lazy to denigrate such vital deradicalisation work as an assault on civil liberties. It is also dangerous and wrong.”

Shame the paper can’t see the danger and fault in pursuing a “toxic” policy that has done little to make us safer and a lot of harm to policing and community relations. An indication of how “easy and lazy” it is to denigrate Muslim civil liberties?


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