Friday, 10 March 2017

Prevent secrecy feeds suspicion

I gave my two minute presentation on Prevent at Scrutiny Committee  earlier this week but not until the lead person on Prevent, Kibibi Octave link person had  given a Powerpoint Presentation and lead member for Stronger communities Cllr Tom Miller had put forward his views.

I had enough time to  ask 9 questions from my list  LINK pointing out that secrecy rules means that none of them could be answered and thus proper scrutiny and transparency was not possible.  I suggested this reinforced suspicion and lack of confidence in the Prevent Strategy.  Octave and Miller admitted this was a problem. In the discussion the former said that there was ‘interest' in the strategy from Brent Muslim groups rather than they ‘bought into’ the strategy. Groups wanted to do things their way rather than be directly aligned with the strategy. Playing Devil's advocate Miller said that if the referral figures were to be published for each borough extremist groups could then focus on the weaker areas.

Muslim groups wanted to do things their way rather than be directly aligned with the strategy.  Responding to a question from a councillor Kibibi Octave said that they'd had less success speaking to Muslim women. I pointed out that a well established Muslim women's group, group An-Nisa had asked for dialogue with the Council - so far unsuccessfully.

Cllr Miller said he had a critical approach to the Prevent duty and was sensitive to the concerns of the Muslim community. He said that the duty was mandatory but he tried to follow key principles that centred on safeguarding victims from grooming etc.  During the discussion there was much emphasis on  avoiding crass referrals and a claim that better training had reduced the number of these. Kibibi Octave said that across London there had been a reduced number of referrals from the education sector in the last year.


  1. But you've reported that An-Nisa HAVE had a dialogue with Brent on this:

    1. Yes, that was the first stage but the desired outcome as part of the ongoing dialogue was then for a public statement by Cllr Butt on the Prevent Strategy and a meeting with Brent headteachers so that An-Nisa could explain the concerns arising from the locsl community. Neither of these things happened and the dialogue dried up.

  2. Maybe Butt (or whoever) knows that An-Nisa aren't representative of the Muslim community and can't speak for them?

    There are regular forums between Children's Services and Headteachers, I'm sure Prevent would have been discussed - would seem a bit more reasonable than letting a local pressure group access the heads. I'm sure many organisations would like the opportunity to do that!

    Maybe the local community aren't as opposed as you think, and it's only really An-Nisa who are whipping up the trouble about this. Maybe every else appreciates the need to stop extremists radicalising vulnerable young people...

  3. The council does appear to have a general difficulty in relating to articulate and intelligent people whether individuals, such as Martin Francis and Philip Grant or groups such as An-Nisa.

    Listening can provide better quality insights than those elicited from highly paid, external consultants noted for looking at your watch then telling you the time......

  4. This blog is an absolutely vital source of citizen-led input into local democracy - even more so with the decline of B&K Times. However it's quite clearly marked as being linked to the Green Party, so you can hardly expect Brent Labour to take policy advice too seriously. If the Greens were running Brent, would they be asking Butt et al to pop in for a chat and some words of wisdom?

    As for An-Nisa, it seems to me as an outsider that listening works two ways. So they came in and got listened to, then heard what Brent have to do and choose to do - and why - and then chose not to listen to it but to continue on a misinformed path of protest. You can't really blame someone for not choosing to continue a dialogue if one side only demands the other listen.

    There was a really good article on Prevent in the Huff Post today. Hopefully those interested in balance will appreciate it: