The (problematic) history of Prevent
in Counter-radicalisation policy and the securing of British identity
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Drawing heavily on the original interviews conducted during the research, this chapter provides a comprehensive account of the history of the Prevent policy. This chapter identifies the key discursive and organisational shifts that have occurred within the development of Prevent, periodising Prevent into three distinct phases: 2001–6; 2007–10; and 2011–15. It demonstrates that the changes to Prevent reflect an underlying debate that sits at the heart of the policy: should Prevent focus on those at imminent risk of radicalisation? Or should the focus be broader, engaging with the ideas and values of communities that may justify and enable violent extremism? A security and an identity strand. The debate between these positions, narrated in the interviews and policy documents, represents the conventional narrative of Prevent, where, at times, the strands are brought together, and at times, it is their separation that is advocated.

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