This week, we released a report that featured the startling testimonies of several families who had been through the ordeal of PREVENT intervention in their lives. As CAGE have reported previously, the definitions used by PREVENT to evaluate “extremism” are flawed and inherently Islamophobic.
These concerns are echoed in a video testimony by a woman, called sister Maryam (for the purposes of anonymity), who told the story of how she was raided in her birthing suite by armed counter-terrorism officers, who had moments earlier apprehended her ex-husband for a charge unrelated to terrorism.
The raid led to a visit by social services who were accompanied by PREVENT officers. PREVENT became involved in their lives, and embarked on a relentless effort to remove her two children from her.
Maryam was not wanted for any crime, yet she was violated in the most demeaning of manners just after she gave birth. This continued for two years and also included the employment of secret evidence, as PREVENT attempted to remove her children.
Eventually, a leading judge ruled that she was a good mother and there was no cause for concern. This story, like others in our report, shatters the deception that PREVENT is a “safeguarding” tool.
Many of our cases show that safeguarding practitioners such as social workers and doctors conclude that there are no safeguarding concerns, yet PREVENT officers continue to pursue families, and in doing so hijack and securitise the very principle of ‘safeguarding’ itself.
PREVENT is desperately trying to divert attention away from its failings
CAGE have always been a voice for the voiceless through communicating the human impact of War on Terror policies. We do this by allowing clients to tell their stories.
This police raid is inexcusable and is indicative of the manner Muslims are treated by the state, who will all too quickly see them through the lens of ‘terrorism’ – even a newborn, who was only hours old, and his mother.
However, PREVENT, and it’s accomplice media, is diverting attention away from these inexcusable actions and the important findings of our report through a number of tactics.
The first of these was a social media message that may be in contempt of court since it breached the confidentiality of family proceedings by identifying one of the parties in care proceedings.
The second tactic was a letter sent by the National Coordinator of PREVENT who suggested that the video would damage confidence in PREVENT and we should publish details of the “wider context” to this case.
Not so coincidentally, the social media message as well as the details of the letter and “wider context” were passed onto a journalist at the Telegraph who accused CAGE of being misleading.
These tactics betrayed their real motives – which is to silence Muslims critical of PREVENT.
The PREVENT National Co-ordinator made it clear they believed that the testimony of this mother would “damage community confidence” in PREVENT.
Instead of admitting the disproportionate conduct in the case the PREVENT lobby targeted a vulnerable mother and her two children, and CAGE, rather than their failing policy.
It is clear that PREVENT would even go so far as leaking our client’s real name and putting her and her children at risk. It is a deplorable act from people who claim they ‘protect’ society.
Our report is a devastating blow to PREVENT and they know it
This diversion is happening because the stories and revelations in our report are evidence of the devastating effects of this toxic PREVENT policy on families.
What is most concerning and what we want to reiterate, is that PREVENT uses academically flawed and scientifically dubious frameworks, which the state concedes is a working hypothesis, to decide if parents and/or children exhibit signs of “extremism”.
This framework, known as the ERG22+ and the VAF, are employed to question even young children to gauge their beliefs, and possibly remove them from their parents.
That the very notion of “safeguarding” is being used to cover up this abuse should be deeply concerning to all those genuinely concerned with the role of social services and the crucial principle that this key sector remains free from securitisation.
There is no greater sign that it is time to scrap this disastrous policy once and for all.
(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.)