Tariq Ramadan (The politics of fear: how anti-extremism strategy has failed, 5 September) displays a complete lack of understanding of the Prevent programme that is designed to safeguard people who are vulnerable to radicalisation. The Prevent strategy has never conflated religious practice with radicalisation. Indeed, we are clear there is no single path to radicalisation, just as there is no single red flag that identifies it. In fact, Prevent’s multi-agency approach recognises that factors such as mental health, substance abuse and social circumstances are crucial factors. What is more, Prevent also deals with far-right extremism. Of course, this is difficult and challenging work, but the kind of grassroots education that Professor Ramadan calls for is already happening around the country. Civil society groups supported by Prevent ran 130 projects last year, reaching more than 25,000 people and countering radicalisation in numerous communities. For example, one such group – Kikit Pathways in Birmingham – succeeded in stopping two young men from travelling to Syria, even though they had tickets booked. We work with many other community groups, and mosques around the country, and more recently the NSPCC.
The UK is leading the world in preventing people being drawn into terrorism and many countries are starting to copy our approach. Irresponsibly fuelling the myths around Prevent makes this vital work harder and inadvertently helps those who seek to radicalise young minds. It is misleading and dangerous.
Ben Wallace MP