SACC has received the following response from the Scottish Government, dated 19 June 2015, to our open letter on Prevent. The response is extremely disappointing. It does not acknowledge our concerns or offer any suggestion that the Scottish Government might take steps to mitigate the harm done by the UK Government's Prevent programme.
Thank you for your letter of 5th June addressed to the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland relating to the Scottish Prevent Duty Guidance published following the introduction of the UK Government Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015. As I work in the Scottish Government Equality Unit, I have been asked to reply.
As you refer, although counter-terrorism is a reserved matter, most of the authorities which deliver Prevent activities in Scotland mainly deliver devolved functions. The Scottish Government therefore insisted that separate guidance was required to address the particular circumstances of Prevent delivery in Scotland.
In developing the Scottish Prevent Guidance, the Scottish Government has worked with the range of statutory authorities listed, to ensure the guidance is balanced, appropriate and reflects the Scottish context. Feedback from Scottish authorities has generally been positive, with this work aligning closely to the well-established existing responsibilities many have in place to ensure that children and adults are safeguarded from harm. We continue to work collaboratively with individual authorities to clarify what is expected of individual institutions in discharge of the duty. The duty does not bring any obligations to suppress anti-war campaigning.
Prevent Strategy in Scotland aims to tackle all forms of terrorist and violent extremist threat and has never focused solely on Scotland's Muslim communities. Our nation's history and geography mean that Northern Ireland related terrorist groups are as much a part of our Prevent strategy as any other form of terrorist ideology. Similarly, the threat of the extreme right wing ideology and the risk that people are being drawn into violence because of it must be recognised and challenged head on.
The Scottish Government is clear that the responsibility to tackle violent extremism is one we all share. We recognise the factors leading to people becoming radicalised are evolving every day and therefore there is a need to refresh our approach accordingly. However, we appreciate security measures can only ever be one part of the solution and therefore continue to work with partners to create cohesive and resilient communities within which terrorist messages will not resonate, in order to build a fairer, safer and more equal Scotland.
I hope you find this response helpful.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT EQUALITY UNIT