The Undercover Research Group is a signatory to the ‘Together Against Prevent’ campaign. Organisations supporting this initiative have agreed the following statement:
- We recognise and condemn the damage that Prevent’s “spot the potential terrorist” approach has made primarily in stigmatising and criminalising entire Muslim communities, but also to a growing number of political activists and campaigners labelled with ill-defined terms like “non-violent extremist” or “domestic extremist”.
- We view Prevent as a policy that is based on insufficient evidence to support the flawed assumption that ‘extremist’ ideology opposed to subjective ‘British values’ is the single most important cause of terrorism. We therefore support closer collaboration between different campaigning, religious and community organisations to call on the government to end its Prevent strategy.
- We support and encourage more political debate in schools, colleges and universities and reject attempts to close down and censor dissenting voices. We welcome open discussion with all young people about potentially radical ideas and call on all educational institutions to vigorously defend the right to free academic inquiry on issues considered ‘controversial’.
- We pledge to take no Prevent funds and support non-cooperation, wherever possible, with local Prevent programmes.
Undercover Research Group on Prevent and domestic extremism
To support the Together Against Prevent campaign comes natural for us: in our research on undercover policing we encountered Prevent in various ways, this is what we have written about it so far:
o Special Branch collusion with Southampton University security, 16 April 2015 and
o Update: Southampton University and Special Branch, 16 July 2015.
o The roots of PREVENT: the National Co-ordinator for Special Branch, 8 April 2015.
Domestic Extremism is a police term which seeks to categorise a particular kind of political activity. The term is often used to distinguish so-called single issue campaigns or political groups with a militant edge from terrorist groups. Animal rights, ecological defence, anti-arms trade, the radical left and the far right have been labelled domestic extremists, as have individual actors such as the letter-bomber Miles Cooper.
The Government has no formal legal definition for Domestic Extremism (while it has one for terrorism for instance). The use of the label has come under criticism for mission creep, for political policing and for using it as a way to treat protest as a form of crime: a number of people who had no criminal record were nevertheless added to the National Domestic Extremism Database.
The National Domestic Extremism Unit page gives a general overview of the units dealing with domestic extremism. For more detail, see the following sub-pages:
- National Domestic Extremism Unit: organisational history
- National Domestic Extremism Unit: activities
- National Domestic Extremism Unit: officers
- Domestic Extremism (definition and history)
- National Domestic Extremism Database
- National Co-ordinator for Special Branch
Netpol has documented many incidents of counter-terrorist police targeting student campaigners, journalists and opponents of fracking as alleged ‘extremists’. However, we have also argued that while is it right to express our disgust at the labelling of campaigners with ill-defined terms like “domestic extremist”, it is important too to remember that Muslim communities are the primary targets of the government’s Prevent strategy – and that the most effective way we can resist it is together.
Show your support
If you support this statement, we encourage you to add the ‘Together Against Prevent’ logo to your website and link it to a specific new page about the campaign on your website. You can find the resources to do so at the Together Against Prevent micro-site.