British Security Minister Outlines Key Elements of New Prevent Agenda
Speaking yesterday at a conference organised by King’s College London’s ICSR, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies, British Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville Jones revealed core elements of the British government’s revised Prevent agenda.
She announced that the new strategy would be broader than it currently is, “confront[ing] all forms of extremism, from the far left to the far right”. At the same time, it will focus “more narrowly… on violent extremism and the pathways that lead to [the] espousal of violence”.
At the core of the new strategy will be “three I’s”: ideology, institutions, and individuals.
• On ideology, Neville-Jones said that the counter-terrorist message had to be “more sustained” and “more focused”, and that the “exploitation” of the internet by extremists for radicalisation and recruitment had to be “at the centre of our attention”.
• Among the institutions where people “may be especially vulnerable to the influence of charismatic radicalisers”, she highlighted universities and colleges, prisons, and mosques. Neville-Jones said that the government would work with a broad range of partners – governmental and non-governmental – to make sure that these place do not become “incubators of extremism”.
• The security minister also stressed the importance of individuals, saying that “people” should be at the center of a “more granular strategy”. She emphasised the importance of community empowerment and engagement, and praised the so-called Channel programme for preventing vulnerable individuals from becoming terrorists. She said, “Hundreds of people have now been referred through our flagship Channel programme. This type of multi-agency intervention is enormously more cost effective than maintaining an MI5 investigation or dealing with the consequences of a successful attack”.
Neville-Jones made it clear that the new strategy would not “rely on extremists to combat violence merely because they do not espouse it themselves”. Drawing on Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent speech at the Munich Security Conference, she stressed that the two tasks of fighting terrorism and creating a more integrated and cohesive society were inseparable. She cited Citizenship Surveys according to which segregation and exclusive forms of religious and ethnic identities formed “an enabling context in which the espousal of violence is made easy”.
The minister’s forceful intervention came at a critical point in both countries’ efforts to combat radicalisation. While Britain’s new Coalition government is revising its Prevent strategy, the U.S. government will set out the core elements of its first domestic “countering violent extremism” agenda later this year.
The conference took place at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC. Titled “UK and US Approaches in Countering Radicalization”, it featured prominent speakers from both the United Kingdom and the United States, and allowed nearly 200 practitioners, experts and policymakers from both sides of the Atlantic to come together, understand each other’s approaches, and exchange best practices.
To watch the full speech, click here.
To watch other on the record panels, click here.