A fraction of referrals to a key British Government anti-terror scheme are being made from within the Muslim community, leading to widespread distrust and threats of a national boycott, according to reports.
Less than 10 per cent of referrals to the Prevent programme, a central plank of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, come from within the Muslim community.
The collapse in referrals means the bulk of tip-offs are originating from public services, such as schools or doctors, breeding distrust and disillusionment among some Muslim communities, it is claimed.
According to The Times, data reportedly released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) revealed that of the 3,288 referrals to prevent in the first half of the year, just 280 – or 8.6 per cent came from within the Muslim community, or from family, friends and faith leaders.
Nearly 2,200 referrals were made by public bodies outside policing, such as social services, the NHS and education sectors. The rest were said to have come from within prisons or from police investigations.
Separate figures for the Channel scheme, a section of Prevent which handles the most serious cases, revealed that 1,355 children under 18 were referred to the service in the year to the end of October, compared to 466 the previous year.
One north London faith group that represents tens of thousands of Muslims is said to have called for a boycott of Prevent, while Muslim leaders in East London have also raised concerns that the programme is spying on youngsters.
Both campaigns have urged mosques and Muslim groups across the country to join the boycott.
Other groups against the programme have also been set up, including Prevent Watch, which said Prevent ‘was flawed from the start’.
The group highlighted one case which revolved around a Muslim student discussing environmental activism in a French class who was asked if he had links to ISIS.
The Prevent programme forms part of the British Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Contest, and is designed to help police and security agencies identify individuals and groups at risk of radicalisation from all groups, such as Islamist extremists or the far-right.
Britain’s terrorism threat level is currently at ‘severe’, meaning the probability of an attack is ‘highly likely’.
Simon Cole, NPCC spokesman for Prevent, told the Times: ‘At a time when the threat level is severe, it is encouraging that the police are highly trusted as an agency for reporting concerns about radicalisation.