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Facing page: terror at Glasgow Airport; one of the slides used in an Operation Griffin meeting. This page: Griffin officials rammed home their message by linking Steps the band to steps to treat poison attacks
The force is with you
The Big Issue in the North asked for details on how forces in its area that had signed up to Project Griffin had delivered the programme. The responses varied widely. Cheshire Police has held one awareness event. Greater Manchester Police runs training sessions monthly for 42 months with an average of 20 attendees. Leeds-Bradford International Airport runs its own Project Griffin training. Both South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester forces, like East Midlands Airport, invited The Big Issue in the North to attend a Project Griffin training session. In contrast Derbyshire and Northumbria said they had no information to release despite the fact they are Project Griffin members, Merseyside Police said it would cost too much to provide the information requested and Cumbria didn’t respond.
“Terrorist plots occur across the UK,” he said. “It is not just a London problem. If you have any preconceptions of what a terrorist looks like, forget it.” Towersey also made clear that, while al-Qaeda was the main threat, attacks could come from other directions. He listed animal rights activists,
environmental groups, Irish republican splinter organisations and fathers’ rights groups as potential sources. Each force adapts the basic Project Griffin formula for its own needs. Greater Manchester Police has a Griffin training session booked in every month until March next year. Delegates get information on, among other things, city centre evacuation plans. Those who have signed up can take part in monthly conference calls with the force’s CTSAs to get the latest threat assessments. Det Insp Andy Brown of Greater Manchester Police’s Counter Terrorist Unit said: “We are extremely pleased local security personnel have pledged their support to Project Griffin. With their help we can ensure Greater Manchester is a hostile environment for terrorist activity and, in turn, a safer place.” At the airport, it was the turn of the army bomb disposal team to give a talk on the kind of devices it
“If you have any preconceptions of what a terrorist looks like, forget it.”
Is Prevent the cure?
The government’s Prevent strategy is intended to tackle the violent extremism that could lead to terrorism. But critics say its emphasis on producing intelligence about the Muslim community is counter-productive, writes Phil Chamberlain, and damages race relations
Millions of pounds have been spent on a programme aimed at preventing the radicalisation of young Muslims – but question marks remain over its effectiveness. The Prevent programme was launched by the government in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in 2005. Aiming to challenge violent extremism, it is led by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) but has strong anti-terrorist input from the Foreign Office, the Home Office’s lowkey Office for Security and Counter Terrorism and the Research, Information and Communication Unit, which is based in the Home Office but staffed by a number of departments. The DCLG has given grants to a number of local authorities in conjunction with the police to spend as
they see fit on Prevent programmes. Ostensibly it is a hearts and minds operation, which aims to link with community groups and schools. But a strong and controversial by-product is the generation of intelligence about potential extremists, which Muslim communities are encouraged to share with the police. Earlier this year Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, described it bluntly as “the biggest spying programme in Britain in modern times and an affront to civil liberties”. In Manchester, one of the top ten recipients of Prevent funding in the country, the council has been working with the local police counter-terrorism unit as well as voluntary organisations such as Peacemaker, which was born of the 2001 Oldham riots. Schools, prisons, probation service, mosques and other organisations have all been drawn in. Some of the money has gone on research to map the Muslim and ethnic minority communities and convene focus groups. One element involves monitoring “new arrivals in the community”. There have been a number of projects aimed at young people, either through drama workshops in schools or providing more sports and leisure facilities. The University of Manchester has created a Muslim Student Leadership scheme, to provide a “safe” forum for debates. Several projects have specifically targeted Muslim women, while an informal network of mosques has been established. Some 250 frontline council staff have been given
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