Updated 27 October 2015.
The UK Government's Prevent programme is a manipulative, discriminatory and Islamophobic programme to suppress political dissent in the name of preventing people from turning to terrorism. It provides cover for intelligence-gathering by police and the intelligence and security services, and puts people at risk of abuse by UK intelligence and security services, and by agencies and authorities overseas.
Prevent legitimises the institutional harassment of Muslims and promotes an Islamophobic outlook in the majority community, particularly through staff training connected with Prevent.
Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, this controversial programme has become part of UK law.
SACC re-affirms its longstanding view that people should not cooperate with Prevent, and that organisations and individuals should not accept funding linked to Prevent.
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and the statutory guidance issued under the Act make it obligatory for local authorities, the NHS, schools, further education colleges and universities to participate in Prevent.
The new law does not place any direct legal obligation on staff in these institutions, or on people who use their services, to cooperate with Prevent. It is not a criminal offence to refuse to cooperate with Prevent.
We encourage people to continue to withhold cooperation from Prevent to the maximum extent they find practicable, and to be frank about the decisions they take and the problems that arise.
We urge trade unions to support people who find themselves in difficulty because they have refused to cooperate with Prevent in their workplace, or have challenged specific aspects of Prevent in their workplace.
We urge organisations to continue to reject Prevent funding, and as far as possible to avoid entering into contracts with public bodies that would involve accepting responsibilities under Prevent.
We urge people of all communities to engage with one another, in a spirit of solidarity, to resist war, racism, Islamophobia, state oppression and terrorism.
SACC shares the concerns felt by many people over recruitment to the Islamic State, especially of young people. We believe that this issue is best dealt with through free, open and informed discussion of all the issues surrounding the Islamic State and British policy in the Middle East and North Africa, conducted in an environment that is as safe as possible for all the participants. This cannot be done except in spaces from which Prevent has been excluded.
The government and agencies delivering Prevent claim that it is directed against domestic far-right groups as well as "Islamist extremists". SACC believes that Prevent is Islamophobic and anti-democratic, and therefore can play no part in countering the UK's far-right organisations.
SACC is dismayed at the involvement of the Scottish Government's Equality Unit in Prevent. We call for a clear separation between Prevent and Equality Unit.
SACC will continue to campaign for the Scottish Government to use its consultative role under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to mitigate the harm done by the new legislation in Scotland; to campaign for the repeal of the Act; to campaign for the Prevent programme to be scrapped; and to urge people in Scotland not to cooperate with Prevent.
Together Against Prevent
SACC is a signatory to the 'Together Against Prevent' campaign. Organisations supporting ‘Together Against Prevent’ 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.