The local prevention of terrorism: strategy and practice in the fight against terrorism

Skoczylis, Joshua J. (2015) The local prevention of terrorism: strategy and practice in the fight against terrorism. Palgrave Macmillan, London. ISBN 9781137499004

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Abstract

CONTEST, which stands for COuNterTErrorism STrategy, is, as the name suggests, the UK government’s principal strategy to counter terrorism. The strategy has four main work streams, Pursue, Prevent, Protect, and Prepare, referred to as the four Ps. This book focuses primarily on Prevent, a policy which aims to ‘stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’, and argues that the innovative inclusion of Prevent within the established institutional framework has caused tensions between government agencies and departments at national and local levels. This book is structured around two key elements: (1) a policy analysis of the formulation of Prevent which explores the potential conflicts and tensions between Prevent and Pursue - a police and security led work stream; and (2) a study of the policy’s local implementation. The study of its implementation also considers the relationship between the national policy and its local delivery, as well as the impact Prevent has had on Muslim communities.

This book contends that Prevent is innovative but embodies inherent policy and organisational tensions which are difficult to resolve. These tensions, the book argues, have a direct impact on community perceptions and the success of Prevent. Further, the success of Prevent must also be measured against the declared aims, although evaluation is a contested issue. The chapters as outlined below examine questions such as, how does the policy ensure that the freedom from of expression and assembly as outlined in the policy document are upheld? And, what safeguards are undertaken to ensure that the policy does not become a programme of surveillance akin to a police state? The book also examines how the freedoms of Muslim communities are protected and what impact the perceived lack of protection has on their level of engagement in both Prevent and Pursue. The study is based on 35 interviews with individuals engaged in the formation and delivery of Prevent such as former Home Secretary Jack Straw, Baroness Neville Jones, Lord Carlile, Sir Norman Bettison and other senior civil servants, but also local authority staff in a case study area in the North of England. This data is supplemented by five focus groups with members of the Muslim communities in the same case study area.

To answer these questions and identify tensions, this book takes a holistic approach, examining the ‘three stages’ of the policy process in the context of Prevent. These stages are formation, implementation, and impact. Policymakers and academics recognise that the policy process is not static and confined to these three silos, and that the relationships between the policy, its delivery, and its impact could affect the dynamics of the policy process. Tensions exist between and within the stages of the Prevent policy. Much of the policy process transpires and is far removed from the daily lives of those subject to it. The purpose of this book, therefore, is to capture the non-static nature and interrelated aspects of the Prevent policy, seeking to examine how this policy was reshaped during its local implementation.
Unlike other Prevent studies, this book examines the inherent tensions, and how they impact communities, and the operationalization of the policy both nationally and locally, which have arisen within Prevent since 2003, while acknowledging the changes in the UK government’s approach to counterterrorism since the Northern Ireland conflict. This study is also more comprehensive because it analyses the whole Prevent policy from formation and implementation to its impact on national, local, and community levels. Rather than focusing on Prevent’s impact alone, this book examines the policy process and how the different stages of the process have been affected by the tensions identified. Three broad areas of tensions are highlighted throughout the book: policy, organisational, and impact. Some of these tensions have been identified in other works, such as those of Thomas and Innes et al., but no other study has examined their impact and the wider Prevent policy together. Raising awareness of these tensions is important because some of them undermine Prevent’s potential for success, and its ability to successfully work with affected communities. Further, as these tensions are seen as inherent, any policy which replaces Prevent would face similar issues, which need to be overcome. It is hoped that highlighting them may provide direction to future research and add knowledge to the policy debate, particularly about how to improve Prevent’s service provisions, communications, and evaluation, and the need to increase understanding of radicalisation and extremism.

Keywords:Prevent, policing, community policing, counter terrorism, Social policy
Subjects:L Social studies > L410 UK Social Policy
L Social studies > L435 Security Policy
L Social studies > L400 Social Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:15153
Deposited On:04 Oct 2014 18:12

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