The Liberal Democrats have criticised Conservative Ministers for having “dragged their feet” on an independent review of the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and “now trying to wriggle out of their legal duty”, as the Government introduced a Bill that would scrap the statutory deadline for the review.
Following a cross-party amendment to the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill in December 2018, the Government is required by law to carry out an independent review of Prevent and publish its report by August 2020.
However, the Government was forced to remove its initial choice as reviewer, Lord Carlile, after legal action against his appointment. The Home Office then waited four months before launching the recruitment process for a new reviewer in April 2020, with applications closing on 1st June.
Today, the Government is introducing a Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which includes a clause that would remove the current August 2020 statutory deadline. It now says the “aim” is to complete the review by August 2021.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“It’s bad enough the Conservative Government had to be forced by Parliament into a review of the Prevent Strategy, but the way Ministers have dragged their feet is appalling.
“The Liberal Democrats share the widespread and serious concerns about the impact of Prevent on minority communities, and especially Muslim communities. An independent review should be a vital opportunity to understand these concerns and address them.
“Having failed to consult properly with the communities affected by Prevent about who should lead the review and what its terms of reference should be, Conservative Ministers are now trying to wriggle out of their legal duty and delay this badly needed review.
“Ministers must drop their ‘dog ate my homework’ approach and get on with this review as soon as possible. Further delays risk undermining public confidence in the review and deepening people’s concerns about the Government’s counter-extremism policies.”