London – A CAGE report released today bears startling testimony to the ways in which PREVENT officers have attempted to remove children, and in some cases succeeded, based on subjective and unscientific assessments of belief.

The report features the voices of parents who have fought to retain their children and been vindicated by the courts after up to three-year ordeals involving house visits, interrogation and privacy violation and the employment of secret evidence – this has had particularly traumatic effects on the children.

The report also underlines CAGE’s previous concerns in 2016 around the employment of the Extremism Risk Guidance (ERG) 22+, a flawed and unscientific method of evaluating individuals for “extremism” based on subjective assessment of behaviour and belief. These concerns were echoed by over 150 professionals and academics.

We hope to kick start a debate on this sensitive issue by rising a number of crucial concerns including the use of secret evidence in family courts so that parents are unable to adequately challenge the state; how PREVENT has facilitated the encroachment of the state into private family life through criminalising ideas and beliefs; and the startling precedent this sets for others who choose to raise their children in ways that do not conform to the homogeneity demanded by the state.

CAGE research director and report author Asim Qureshi, said:

“We have found that many cases involving wardship of children in “extremism” cases involve outlandish Prevent claims that have lead only to a huge waste of public resources. Not only this, but the relentless pursuit of families is creating a new “normal” that is facilitating the extension of arbitrary state power through PREVENT.”

“While we understand the need to protect children against real abuse, conflating subjective notions of “extremism” with “sexual grooming” and other such crimes, can result in unnecessary and deeply traumatic intrusions into homes where there is simply no concern of danger. And yet, the cases in our report show an almost relentless pursuit of individuals based on politicised notions of what is correct belief and what is not. This stands to endanger not only children, but also the very notion of safeguarding itself.”

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)