Draft extracts of the long-delayed review into the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy have reportedly revealed that taxpayers’ money was handed to organisations that “had promoted extremist narratives”.
According to extracts in The Telegraph, key figures in organisations that receive funds from the Prevent programme are alleged to have supported the Taliban and even defended militant Islamist bodies banned in the UK.
The scheme’s aim is to safeguard vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism.
The independent review by Sir William Shawcross, a former chairman of the Charity Commission, was delivered to the Home Office in late April but is still undergoing fact and legal checks.
The newspaper claims the review is expected to say that the “unacceptable” cases undermined Prevent’s ability to “effectively undertake counter-radicalisation” work and that “these findings raise serious questions about whether Prevent is knowingly taking this approach and, if not, whether it operates robust due diligence procedures and has an acceptable level of understanding of Islamist extremism”.
In the draft report, Sir William reportedly said he had examined the funding distributed by Prevent, finding that in some cases it went to organisations that had “promoted extremist narratives”.
The report reportedly cites four examples.
It also goes on to criticise the scheme for focusing too much on far-right extremism at the expense of the Islamist threat and for straying from its “core mission” of stopping people from becoming terrorists by putting too much emphasis on treating them as victims.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The review will be published in due course. It remains right that we take the time to prepare and deliver a considered response.”
The spokesman also insisted Prevent “remains a vital tool for early intervention and safeguarding”.
The Prevent policy came under renewed scrutiny after it was revealed the home-grown terrorist who murdered Sir David Amess had been referred to the programme but continued to plot his attack in secret.
Prevent also featured in other recent cases, including that of Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah who murdered three men in a park and Sudesh Amman, responsible for stabbings in Streatham, both in 2020, as well as the 2017 Parsons Green Tube train attacker Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan, among others.
The Home Office has been approached for comment.