Former Counter-Terrorism Police Chief Attacks Rishi Sunak’s Prevent Plans | Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak’s proposals to bolster the government’s counterterrorism program risk “straying into thought crimes” and potentially damaging national security, a former senior police chief said.

The former chancellor announced measures on Tuesday evening to strengthen the Prevent program, as part of an effort to boost his campaign to succeed Boris Johnson as the next prime minister.

This would lead to more people being referred to Prevent by broadening the definition of “extremism” to those who “slander” Britain, with Sunak promising to focus on “wiping out those who express their hatred of our country.” express”.

But former counter-terrorism chief Sir Peter Fahy, who was also chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, questioned the precise meaning of “defamation”.

He said: “Prevent’s expansion could damage its credibility and reputation. It makes it more about people’s thoughts and opinions.

“It strays into thinking crimes and political opinions.”

He added: “Political opposition is not where the police should be. It is those who pose a serious threat and risk violence, not those who are against political systems.”

Sunak said Tuesday evening that “Britain is a beacon of freedom, tolerance and diversity”, and warned against one day “letting those who seek to undermine and destroy our way of life succeed”.

He said he would refocus the Prevent program to tackle Islamist extremism, which he called the “main terror threat from the UK”.

He also pledged to “eliminate and cut off organizations promoting extremism in the UK”, adding: “There is no more important duty for a prime minister than to keep our country and our people safe.”

Extremism is defined in the 2011 Prevent strategy as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual freedom and mutual respect and tolerance for different religions and beliefs”, as well as calls for the death of armed forces personnel .

Sunak’s team vowed to extend that to “defamation of the UK” to ensure that “those with extreme hatred of our country who lead them to pose a risk to national security can be identified and given a destructive path are diverted”.

They stressed that it was not a legally binding definition and that simply criticizing the government or any of its policies would not count as defamation, but would instead “help the public sector in its job of keeping the UK safe”.

Prevent has previously encountered controversy over whether it should include those who criticize British foreign policy and conduct in the 2003 Iraq war. The Prevent police officer has been trying to pay much more attention in recent years to those at risk of falling into terrorist violence.

Those in the public sector are required to report concerns to Prevent, which has caused consternation before. Their information is the lifeblood of the anti-radicalization plan, which is dogged by claims it has gone astray in suppressing freedom of thought and expression.

Fahy said, “The danger is the perception it creates that teachers and health professionals are involved in state surveillance.”

“What does slander mean? Insult should be carefully defined.”

Former counter-terrorism chief Neil Basu said Prevent was the most important part of Britain’s fight against violent extremism. A government-mandated revision of the program has been delivered to officials, but there is no public timetable for its publication.

Sunak’s pledges to improve security include blocking terrorists from trying to “misuse our human rights framework” by classifying them differently from the general prison population through a new law; monitoring government-funded outside organizations to ensure that extremist groups do not receive taxpayers’ money; and channeling those referred to Prevent who are in greater need of mental health support.

“Whether it’s doubling our efforts to tackle Islamist extremism or eradicating those who express their hatred of our country, I will do everything I can to fulfill that duty,” he said.

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