The National Police Prevent Case Management database is owned and managed by the national counter-terrorism policing headquarters. The database is readily accessible by all police forces in the UK and the Home Office, Presstv Reported.
The latest revelation has raised concerns amongst privacy campaigners who fear that the database not only infringes privacy rights, but that more worryingly it disproportionately targets minority groups.
Gracie Bradley, who is policy and campaigns manager for the human rights group, Liberty, told the Guardian on Sunday that: “This secret database isn’t about keeping us safe. It’s about keeping tabs on and controlling people – particularly minority communities and political activists”.
Developed in early 2003, Prevent is one of four strands of CONTEST, the UK’s overarching counter-terrorism strategy. The other strands are Pursue, Protect and Prepare.
Prevent operates in the pre-criminal space, that is well before individuals, deemed to be at risk of exposure to so-called radicalization and extremism, have crossed the threshold into criminal behaviour.
Prevent has been controversial from the outset as it has been perceived to target ideas and ideology, as opposed to troublesome behaviour.
The controversy escalated when Prevent was placed on a statutory footing in February 2015 following the ratification of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act.
The statutory classification placed a duty on local authorities, schools, NHS trusts and prisons to report concerns about individuals perceived to be at risk of embracing so-called extremist or radical ideologies.
In recent years tens of thousands of people have been referred to the Prevent programme, with Home Office data indicating that 7,318 people were referred in 2017-2018 alone.
Out of this large group only 394 persons were put on the so-called Channel process, which provides specialist support to individuals deemed to be at risk of getting drawn into terrorist activity.
An investigative report by the Financial Times, on January 24, 2019, reveals in rich detail how the Prevent programme penetrates Muslim communities across the country as part of a wide-ranging effort to identify and engage so-called radicals and extremists.
Meanwhile, The Independent reported back in November 2017 that British Muslim children as young as nine were being referred to the Prevent programme.