Accounts from the Frontline
This reflection presents a cautious look at Prevent from a youth workers’ point of view. It has been written with reference to first-hand experience and conversations with fellow youth workers and attempts to shed some light on why many in the youth and community sector may be reluctant to engage with the UK Government’s Prevent Strategy. Although the ideas presented in this article have been developed through personal experience, they also constitute the basis of planned future research on the way Prevent is being received within the youth sector.
As such the paper will first set a policy context for the strategy outlining how community safety and crime prevention initiatives which once relied on voluntary involvement, are now increasingly being reinforced by a legal duty on particular professional groups of people to participate. I then look at the focus on the concern around the potential radicalisation of young people considering why they feature so significantly within the UK Government’s counter terrorism strategy. This viewpoint will be assessed against terrorism related conviction statistics and data on Prevent referrals and interventions, both of which suggest that the counter terrorist focus on youth radicalisation could be misguided. The article will close with some reflections on experiences gained as a youth worker regarding the realities of what can happen when youth organisations engage with Prevent as well as presenting an example of the pressure felt when organisations actively state that they have nothing to offer in terms of information on potential radicals.
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