BITN 831_16,17,19 (terror):BITN 772_20,21 (orbit

)

1/7/10

17:55

Page 19

COUNTER TERRORISM

dealt with and the steps security staff should take if they see a suspect package. There followed another video montage of bombings from Ireland to Iraq – this time set to Robbie Williams singing Angel. A key part of any Project Griffin training is spotting hostile reconnaissance – the intelligence gathering terrorists carry out before an attack. But there has been criticism that Griffin encourages private security staff to start seeing a terrorist in every innocent photographer. According to advice from Greater Manchester Police, released to The Big Issue in the North under the Freedom of Information Act, suspicious activity includes: “People taking pictures or notes of the security measures at a building. Tourists taking pictures of each other with buildings in the background should be treated sensitively but also considered.” In the City of London, security guards and police have stopped and detained many innocent students

Another slide from the Operation Griffin briefing. Officials stressed terrorist threats weren’t confined to jihadi groups

and tourists because of suspicions over what they were photographing. At the airport briefing, CTSA David Randall finished the session by encouraging attendees to think about what was unusual, and therefore needed reporting. “The baseline is normal or usual activity – the general movement of people where you work or at home,” he said. “What it looks like and what it sounds like. “What is unusual is what conflicts with that baseline. It is a sixth sense. “Ask yourself, what you have seen and why did it not feel right?” Inspector Tony Marson, who runs Project Griffin at the airport, said giving people the confidence to call in suspicious activity was key. It was not just the awareness of spotting something out of the ordinary, he emphasised, but knowing that every scrap of information could be important, and should not be left to someone else to report.

Chakrabarti (left): Prevent is an “affront”. Below: Kundnani: police influence

training on how to spot extremists and identify people vulnerable to recruitment. Councillors have taken part in role playing exercises involving “terror-related events”. The city council has committed to remove offensive graffiti within 48 hours. The prison and probation service have joined in to look at how they deal with potential extremists who have already come to the attention of the police. A report to Manchester City Council shows the challenges local authorities face in implementing Prevent. “Getting it wrong or rushing to spend available funding without any real engagement with partners or learning about communities and what works would be counter-productive,” notes the report. Councillor Paul Murphy, chair of Greater Manchester Police Authority, told a House of Commons select committee looking at the Prevent programme that Manchester rigorously reviews the way Prevent is run but admitted: “It is new and we are learning. I suspect when it was first introduced people were not quite sure what it meant. Nobody bothered to model it… it was left to police authorities, forces and local government to work out. “We are beginning to work it out – although I think the most important message is that the police should not just be allowed to be unfettered in the way in which (a) they go about their business, or (b) the money they spend. “We bring them to account on a regular basis. It is based on trust and transparency.” But not everyone is convinced

the Prevent programme is delivering. According to human rights pressure group Just West Yorkshire a fundamental flaw in the strategy is that its definition of violent extremism ignores the threat from the far right. In a report, it said: “Despite the investment of nearly £100 million of public monies… there is little evidence that violent extremism or radicalism has been eliminated or minimised. “Just calls for an open and transparent demonstration of how funded activities and programmes have resulted in the reduction of violent extremism in the Muslim community… how funded agencies are competent in achieving these changes.” In a damning report on Prevent released earlier this year, the Commons DCLG Select Committee appeared to agree. Chairwoman Phyllis Starkey said: “We agree that a targeted strategy must address the contemporary al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist threat, but we do not believe a government department charged with promoting cohesive communities should take a leading role in this counter-terrorism initiative.” Indeed, the committee was concerned that Prevent activities had, in some cases, tainted existing community relations. According to Dr Paul Thomas, a lecturer in youth and community work at the University of Huddersfield who has studied Prevent in places such as Oldham, the programme has provoked criticism from other groups who feel that Muslims are given preferential treatment because of the funding it channels. But its value as an intelligence-gathering tool means it will be with us for a while, according to Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations. He believes the government is likely to withdraw funding from local authorities and hand it over to the police. “The police have massive influence because they have the intelligence and they refuse to share it,” he says. “It is going to become less accountable and more secret.”

Who gets funded
The 19 areas to have received the most Prevent funding between 2008/9 and 2010/11 are below. According to the 2001 census, this also matches the 19 areas with the highest percentage of Muslim residents. Birmingham: £2,413,000 Bradford: £1,425,000 Tower Hamlets: £1,349,000 Newham: £1,197,000 Kirklees: £893,000 Manchester: £817,000 Waltham Forest: £817,000 Brent: £741,000 Ealing: £741,000 Leicester: £741,000 Redbridge: £741,000 Hackney: £741,000 Luton: £665,000 Blackburn w Darwen: £665,000 Enfield: £665,000 Haringey: £665,000 Oldham: £665,000 Sheffield: £665,000 Camden: £665,000

Source: Institute of Race Relations.

5-11 JULY 2010 · THE BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH

19