Friday, 16 December 2016

Pre-Policing and PREVENT

We have pointed out before that the UK, which was once an icon for legal rights, has in this century (starting in the last two decades of the last century) flipped and now leads in engineering the new authoritarianism.  From thousands of security cameras to anti-social policing (and ASBOS) to highly intrusive child welfare legislation to secret courts to curtailment of free speech at its universities the UK is painting the picture of a new society - an unfortunately very Orwellian society.
The latest UK addition to this sustained assault on legal rights is a program called “Prevent”.  Prevent is said to be part of a counter-terrorism strategy which tackles the problem of terrorism at its roots, by preventing people from becoming terrorists.  Prevent is a “pre-criminal space” program which means that it is intended to identify individuals who are at risk of radicalisation.  It is not limited to identifying potential Islamic radicals.  It is not limited to a particular ideology but rather extends to all forms of state identified extremism. 

The public in general and professionals in particular are asked to identify individuals who are “vulnerable” to radicalisation or whose behaviour and ideology has changed.  These individuals are “snitched” to a body with the rather imposing bureaucratic title “Health Corporate Safeguarding Team” which independent of any legal process decides upon the appropriate response. 

The police force for Prevent are various health and educational professionals including any National Health Service front line staff, managers and clinicians and teachers at state schools.  In fact teachers are now obliged to undergo Prevent training.  Although couched in the usual social worky “supportive” language it is clear that Prevent is a surveillance program.

Doctors, in particular, are being conscripted to act as spies.  Personnel from their offices will have to attend courses where they will be taught to identify radicals - whom the doctor will be required to report to Big Brother.  If a GP practice fails to send a member of staff on the “Prevent” counter terrorism course, part of their funding will be cut.

At the present time Prevent is directed at radical Islamism but it has a far broader reach.  The 2015 legislation’s definition of extremist ideology includes “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.  In other words an atheism, which does not respect religious beliefs, is potentially identified as an extremist ideology.  Depending on what one considers to be fundamental British values there are a lot of other potential thought crimes - opposing abortion, supporting abortion, opposing the monarchy, criticizing capitalism and calling for state nationalization, opposing eating meat, disliking vegetarians or whatever else might be the unacceptable viewpoint of the day.

The Prevent legislation includes “extremism disruption orders”, which go beyond previous anti-terrorism legislation by criminalizing not the act itself but rather the intent to act.  These measures are aimed at those who operate in what the police have called the “pre-criminal space” and therefore expand the definition of people who could be incarcerated from those who do bad things to those who think bad things.  It means prosecuting a person’s mens rea where there is no actus reus.

What will they teach the spies that attend the Prevent indoctrination sessions?  Across the Atlantic the Minnesota Department of Corrections has developed a program that identifies criminal thinking patterns.  Examples of statements which supposedly disclose a proclivity to engage in criminal activities include “I tend to be a victim of the whims of others. Friends, family, employers, and/or the government really created the mess I am in today.; “It doesn't take a lot of hard work, time or effort to be successful. I am really interested in ‘get rich quick' ideas.”; “No one knows what I have gone through. I've lived a tough life that has given me the experience to be better at things than others.”; “Rules and laws are made for other people. I tend to have my own way of doing things.; “People are always telling me that I should learn from my mistakes and plan for my future. Not me, I live for today.”;  “I'm a thrill seeker. I live for excitement - responsibility is not for me.; and “I tend to be possessive of my things and the people around me, but get upset when others don't share their good fortunes with me.”

The Minnesota list identifies thought patterns held by millions of people - one suspects that some of these attitudes are especially widely prevalent among highly successful people - whether in sports, entertainment, politics or business.

The UK’s National Health Authority are drawing up their own lists of “attitudes” which supposedly will disclose unacceptable radical thinking.  They will inevitably reflect the ideological perspectives of the drafters.  As a product of mindless, unimaginative bureaucrats they will invariably come down hard on outliers, eccentrics, non-conformists, individualists, free thinkers. 

The “trained” people from doctor’s office will return to their jobs with their nice little lists.  They will be looking hard for patients who supposedly have identified proclivities.  And no doubt people will get reported just because the snitch just doesn’t like them or their “attitudes”.

Pre-policing, of course, is an intrinsic component of any authoritarian state.  In Hitler’s Germany the citizens including educators and doctors were expected to report people who showed the slightest hint of disrespect for the regime.  It was the same in the Soviet Union.  Police states are constantly engaging in pre-policing; ie. identifying people who have the wrong thoughts and who might, in the future, act against the regime.  On the other hand pre-policing is antithetical to that bundle of civil rights which underlie law and order in a democratic state.  The U.K. - as it used to be.


  1. The only way to get rid of Jihadist terrorist in Great Britain is to annihilate the hate crime known as Islam. If you don't hold any of these regressive Islamic beliefs, then there is nothing for you to worry about. We need to get to the root of the cause of terrorism and we can only do that by stamping out the hate crimes that are perpetuated by the Koran.

  2. These people commenting are disgusting. You should consider changing the message and tonality of your blog, because it appears to be encouraging disgusting Islamophobia.

  3. How about you give yourself a post natal abortion.