Preventing Prevent Toolkit

The Preventing Prevent Toolkit is a set of resources designed to both educate students on why we should oppose Prevent, and to offer concrete ways in which students can oppose the policy. For the educational side, you’ll be able to find a briefing on major developments in the legislation, criticisms and its local history in Cambridge.

Preventing Prevent Toolkit

Since its introduction in 2005, Prevent has been criticised by human rights organisations for expanding government surveillance and scapegoating Muslims, and it has been no different in Higher Education since it was made a legal duty for Universities in 2015. Following mounting evidence of the policy’s harms, the Government conceded to a review in 2019. However, from the beginning, the review has been mired in controversy and beset by delays. The appointment of William Shawcross, who has a long track record of Islamophobia, as chair of the review confirms that the government has no real intention of conducting an objective review of the policy or engaging meaningfully with the communities that have been harmed by it. Dozens of leading human rights organisations and hundreds of Muslim groups have launched a boycott of the review. Our Preventing Prevent Toolkit is designed to empower students to oppose the policy at a College, University, and national level.

 

What is Prevent and why should we oppose it?

 

The Prevent Duty requires public sector organisations to monitor people for signs of “radicalisation,” with the stated aim of “safeuard[ing] vulnerable people from becoming terrorists.” In order to confirm their compliance with the Prevent Duty, the University and each of the Colleges must submit regular Accountability and Data Returns to the Office for Students (OfS), which regulates the higher education sector in England. 

Since it was launched in 2005 and rolled out across public sector organisations as a statutory duty in 2015, Prevent has been criticised by organisations ranging from Amnesty International to the UN as a racist legislation which uses flawed research to institutionalise Islamophobia and expand government surveillance. They argue that the policy is not effective in predicting future participation in violence, and that the policy’s vague and open-ended wording jeopardises basic civil liberties and singles out Muslims in particular for suspicion. In 2017/18, 44% of cases referred to Prevent were for concerns related to “Islamist extremism,” and less than 1 in 10 required further action. We’ve also seen a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech, where Prevent has stifled debate and quashed dissent. 


 

What’s in the toolkit?

 

The Preventing Prevent Toolkit is a set of resources designed to both educate students on why we should oppose Prevent, and to offer concrete ways in which students can oppose the policy. For the educational side, you’ll be able to find a briefing on major developments in the legislation, criticisms and its local history in Cambridge. 

We have also included tools to make it easy for you to organise against the policy in your College. We are encouraging all JCRs and MCRs to boycott any Prevent-related activities in colleges, including Prevent training and having any role on college-level Prevent committees. In the toolkit you’ll find a motion to be submitted to combination room open meetings, committing J/MCRs to signing our ‘Preventing Prevent’ pledge. The pledge commits J/MCRs to actions including: a boycott of Prevent-related activities in colleges, attendance of ‘Preventing Prevent’ training, and a commitment to educate members on why Prevent is a threat to civil liberties. The pledge also calls on the University to support the growing boycott of the Review. 


If you have any questions about how best to use these resources to understand and oppose Prevent on a local and national level, please feel free to get in touch with howard.chae@cambridgesu.co.uk or ben.margolis@cambridgesu.co.uk.

 

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