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Anti-terror police running a secret Prevent database

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Scotland Yard - headquarters of the Metropolitan Police
Scotland Yard - headquarters of the Metropolitan Police
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Scotland Yard - headquarters of the Metropolitan Police

Human rights campaigners say news is ‘chilling’

One-Minute Read
Monday, October 7, 2019 - 6:56am

Anti-terror police have been running a secret database including thousands of people referred to the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, according to human rights group Liberty.

Leaked documents show that the National Police Prevent Case Management database is accessible to all police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Home Office is able to request data from it.

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Freedom of Information requests show that each referral to Prevent is added to the database by individual police forces, including personal details and reasons for the referral. The subject of the referral is not notified. 

Gracie Bradley, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said: “This secret database isn’t about keeping us safe. It’s about keeping tabs on and controlling people – particularly minority communities and political activists.”

She added that she finds it “utterly chilling” that “potentially thousands of people, including children”, are on a secret government database “because of what they’re perceived to think or believe”.

Harun Khan, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the news of the database is “deeply worrying,” particularly given its secrecy.  

He added: “This database – over and above being a hugely authoritarian tool” and will “disproportionately affect Muslims”.

Prevent has proven to be a controversial initiative. A voluntary programme, it is designed to divert people from radicalisation before they offend and deals with individuals who have not committed any crime.

The Guardian says Prevent has faced “years of accusations” that it has “become a toxic brand that disproportionately [targets] Muslims”.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “The public would expect the police to maintain professional records of those individuals referred for support as potential victims of radicalisation.”

He claimed that “good records ensure we are accountable, allow us to understand when vulnerabilities are increasing, and ensure we act consistently and proportionately, only taking action in those cases where our support is necessary”.

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