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Grooming student spies

Grooming student spies

Categories: Latest News

Sunday November 17 2013

Hugh Muir in the Guardian reflects on the story in Friday’s paper of a police officer attempting to recruit a Cambridge University student to spy on fellow students.

A covert recording shows an officer attempting to entice a student into spying on activist students at the university in return for money. The officer tells the would-be recruit to focus on “student-union type stuff” because “the things they discuss can have an impact on community issues”.

Hugh Muir unraveling other covert practices that have come to light in recent years also draws attention to the Prevent strategy and in particular, the Channel programme. Muir notes:

“In universities up and down the country there has been a considerable effort to cultivate assets capable of monitoring young Muslim students considered at risk of radicalisation. The government’s Prevent programme, and its deradicalisation arm Channel, has drawn on the university establishments themselves: lecturers and bureaucrats as surveillance assets. The result is predictable. Yesterday Ratna Lachman, director of the human rights group Just West Yorkshire, told a Society for Educational Studies seminar of fears that some universities have become “Islamophobic spaces” for those who now regard them as “extensions of the security arm of the state”.”

The impact of poor counter-terrorism policy on Muslim communities has been widely covered in reports such as IRR’s Spooked!, the research report ‘Suspect Communities’, and in the review of the Prevent strategy by the Communities and Local Government committee under the chairmanship of Dr Phyllis Starkey.

The CLG report of 2010 stated:

“We remain concerned by the number of our witnesses who felt that Prevent had been used to ‘spy’ on Muslim communities…despite rebuttals, the allegations of spying retain widespread credibility within certain sections of the Muslim community. If the Government wants to improve confidence in the Prevent programme, it should commission an independent investigation into the allegations made.”


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