Lord Carlile to lead independent review of controversial Prevent programme



Lord Carlile
Lord Carlile

Lord Carlile has been appointed to lead an independent review of the controversial Prevent counter-terrorism programme.

The barrister and former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has promised to conduct a “strongly evidence-based” review of the scheme, which has drawn criticism from trade unions and civil liberties groups.

Prevent aims to safeguard vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism, and forms one of the four strands of the UK government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.

However, Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, recently described it as a “misconceived policy that stifles speech, spreads fear and distrust, and encourages discrimination”, echoing concerns raised by teaching unions.

The independent review was established in January under the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 and will focus on the current delivery of the programme. It is expected to present recommendations to Parliament by August 2020.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Lord Carlile brings a wealth of experience and skills to this role. As the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, he showed independence and rigour and I am pleased he has agreed to lead this review.

“Prevent is vitally important in stopping vulnerable individuals being drawn into terrorism and has been instrumental in turning people’s lives around for the better and keeping our communities safe.

“Our Prevent Network across the country – from mentors giving individual support, to raising awareness of the dangers of radicalisation – works tirelessly to tackle all forms of terrorism.

“We are continually improving and evolving the programme, and I look forward to seeing Lord Carlile’s recommendations on how we can learn more about what works and where we need to improve.”

Lord Carlile added: “The nature of the terrorist threat is ever-changing and government policy must evolve in order to tackle it.

“I look forward in my new role to seeing Prevent work in action and hearing views from supporters, critics and everyone in between to see the evidence of what is and isn’t working. The review will be strongly evidence-based.

“As the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, I have a strong track record of asserting and sustaining my independence of government in assessing the effectiveness of legislation, and this role will be no different.”