Journalist Billy Briggs has learned that Glagow City Council has been using a controversial online course to train staff about the supposed risks of terrorism. His report for The Ferret (3 November 2015) is a must-read.
The training material, though revealed by The Ferret for the first time, isn't new. The introduction to the "Protect Against Terrorism" course says that it was "compiled in conjuction with Strathclyde Police A Division CONTEST Coordination unit". Strathclyde Police was absorbed into Police Scotland in 2013. Glasgow City Council says that 1424 staff members have so far accessed its Protect Against Terrorism training course, and 546 staff members have completed it.
The course lists "animal rights", "environmental" and "anti-nuclear" activism as current terrorist threats, though none of them are identified as threats in the latest CONTEST annual report or in the statutory PREVENT guidance.
Arthur West, secretary of Scottish CND, told The Ferret:
"You frankly could not make this up. The training would be better concentrating on how possessing nuclear weapons has the potential to make us a terrorist target."
The training says that grounds for suspicion on a "city centre housing estate" include closed curtains, visits to a house at unusual times, and bins with unusual items.
In a separate investigation (5 November 2015), The Ferret has discovered that Glasgow City Council has been testing the ability of its new CCTV system, provided by Israeli firm NICE, to track "suspects." Glasgow City Council has previously denied that it would be using facial recognition tools in the NICE software. But it would be very surprising if the "suspect tracking" facility covered by the tests can work properly without using facial recognition technology.
So a CCTV system that can track you, and perhaps recognise you, is in the hands of people who think closed curtains, or unusual items in your rubbish bin, are signs that you could be a terrorist.
As well as exposing its staff to its online "Protect Against Terrorism" course, Glasgow City Council has been using the newer "Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent" (WRAP). According to documents obtained by The Ferret, 30 staff members from GCC's social work department have attended the workshops.
GCC has apparently not provided the material is uses for the workshops. But they are standard, scripted workshops that widely used in England.
Like the GCC's "Protect Against Terrorism" course, they involve discussion of issues like environmentalism and animal rights. Trainers are given discretion over the particular examples of activism they choose for the case study included in the standard presentation.
This may perhaps be an attempt by trainers to deflect accusations of Islamophobia. It is misleading, since the key Government documents on the PREVENT strategy put a strong emphasis on what they call "Islamist extremism". The latest annual CONTEST report focuses mainly on this, but also refers to a continuing risk from Northern Ireland related terrorism, and a risk from far-right terrorism that is said to be low. It makes no mention of animal rights, environmental or anti-nuclear campaigners as potential threats, nor are they mentioned in the statutory Prevent Duty Guidance for Scotland.
Besides providing a sheen of diversity, the training focus on other "terrorist threats" appears to be a technique crafted to break down intellectual and psychological resistance to the core elements of PREVENT, and to adjust attendees to the outlook of institutionalised suspicion promoted by PREVENT.
Source: Luton School Support Services
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