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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - UK police failed to record race of nearly 2 out of 3 people referred to counter-extremism program
LONDON: British police failed to record the racial identity of nearly two-thirds of people referred to the Prevent counter-extremism program amid concerns that it discriminates against Muslims, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
Between 2015 and 2023, 51,204 people in England and Wales were referred to the program, according to government figures.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council found that the racial or ethnic backgrounds of 33,116 of those referrals could not be accessed.
Prevent, which mandates public entities like schools and police to preemptively identify individuals at risk of adopting extremist ideologies and intervene, has come under close scrutiny and criticism since a review into its procedures by William Shawcross.
Serving as an independent reviewer, Shawcross concluded that Prevent was “not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism” and “has a double standard when dealing with the extreme right-wing and Islamism.”
On the other hand, human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, said the program and its practices had exhibited racist and discriminatory biases, especially against Muslims living in the UK.
Rights & Security International sought to uncover racial data on Prevent referrals through freedom of information requests to the Home Office, NPCC, and the Metropolitan Police, but was met with resistance from the agencies.
Sarah St Vincent, executive director of the RSI, said police failures to log the ethnicity of those referred meant it was impossible to properly assess if particular communities had faced discrimination.
A subsequent complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office led to the admission from the NPCC in December that the ethnicity of 33,116 referrals from the requested time frame had not been recorded.
The ICO ruled that ethnicity was not one of the markers it needed to track.
“Ethnicity is not a mandatory field within the Prevent referral, which means that the ethnicity field within the Prevent case management tracker database can be left blank,” an ICO statement said.
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