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New report on "Assessing the Effects of Prevent Policing"

New report on "Assessing the Effects of Prevent Policing"

Categories: Latest News

Monday April 11 2011

A new report, commissioned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and undertaken by the Universities’ Police Science Institute at Cardiff University (UPSI), assessing the effects of policing in delivery of the Government’s Prevent strategy on Muslim communities in Britain is released today.

From the report:

“This report provides an assessment of the effects of Prevent policing. Informed by analyses of the British Crime Survey and ninety five in-depth interviews with Muslim community members (n=53) and police involved in delivering Prevent (n=42), it seeks to develop an evidence-led account of what Prevent policing has and has not achieved since its inception in 2003.

“The interview data clearly capture that community participation in co-­‐productive working to solve problems is involving both organizations that are formally funded by Prevent, but also more ‘organic’ forms of activism. However, reflecting a key finding of the earlier report, it remains the case that Muslim communities continue to express a preference for using their own informal social control resources to solve a problem when this is (or at least is believed to be) feasible.

“The evidence suggests that many Muslims hold quite complex and sophisticated views about the Prevent programme. Frequently, across the course of a single interview, community representatives talked both positively and negatively about their encounters with Prevent.

“Many of the reservations expressed about Prevent policing centred upon the means sometimes implemented. In particular, objections were registered about how Prevent funding had gone to groups who were not delivering much practical benefit. These concerns were reinforced by the wide-­‐ranging disposition of the Prevent programme and the tendency for it to define Muslims’ relations with key state agencies, such as the police. Overall, the attitudes and perceptions of people belonging to Muslim communities can be divided into three main positions:

  • Some are fundamentally ‘anti–Prevent’ and anti-police. This stance views the entire Prevent agenda as flawed and misconceived. Whilst this ‘strong critique’ of Prevent policing has achieved some political traction, the evidence collated suggests that it is not a mainstream or majority view within Muslim communities.
  • At the other end of the continuum are people who are ‘advocates’ of Prevent. They accept the premises of Prevent and are often actively engaged in helping to deliver it, either within or outside of formal programme structures.
  • In between these two positions are a large group of ‘non-aligned’ Muslims, whose views shift according to the unfolding of events. For many of these, a ‘weaker’ critique of Prevent does have some resonance in that they disagree with how some aspects of it have been delivered, but accept that ultimately there is a problem that needs to be confronted. Their concerns are pragmatically grounded in terms of how interventions should and should not be delivered.

“The police role in Prevent appeared to be viewed more positively than the wide-ranging remit afforded to the local authority based ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ element.

Overall though, there was a strong sense in the data of Prevent being a ‘tainted’ brand’. Such views have been strongly influenced by the legacy of how Prevent was initially introduced in a hurry without establishing clarity of mission, or testing of appropriate tactical and strategic interventions. These concerns notwithstanding, appropriately configured targeted policing interventions did receive community support and backing.

“Taken as a whole, Muslims express higher levels of trust and confidence in the police than do the general population. This is in spite of them reporting crime and disorder impacts more negatively upon them than do the general population. This is an important finding because it challenges the oft repeated claim that Muslim communities in the UK are being profoundly alienated and disenchanted by the workings of the Prevent programme.

“The evidence available for this study suggests that the actual situation is somewhat more complex.

  • Time trend analysis of a number of general policing indicators contained within the BCS covering the period in which Prevent has been implemented shows that Muslim community perceptions of the police have been remarkably stable, and largely positive.
  • It is thus concluded that Prevent policing does not appear to be causing widespread damage to police and Muslim community relations.”

Read the report in full here.

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