London – National Lead for Counter Terrorism Policing Mark Rowley’s recent address to the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange calling for a “whole society response” to the “chronic threat of extremism” is deeply disturbing, contradictory, and shows he is completely out of touch with reality.

Rowley presented a tired rehash of tried and failed models. The fact that a police officer addressed a right-wing organisation connected to the Henry Jackson Society and the broader Islamophobia network casts doubt on the impartiality of the police and does little for their credibility and legitimacy that he so wishes to secure.

Moreover in his speech, Rowley particularly honed in on children, calling for the removal of children of individuals convicted of ‘terrorism’ offences and putting them on a par with paedophiles. This is an outrageous statement when terrorism offences are so broad to include someone who refuses to answer Schedule 7 questions, or someone who has expressed controversial views or downloaded a document for research.

The “whole society response” Rowley is advocating, is nothing short than an attempt to further entrench PREVENT and all its failings within society. He appears ignorant of the mounting academic and practitioner evidence that, domestic and foreign policies play a significant role in seeding grievances and conveniently diverts attention to communities and groups that seek accountability from the state.

Asim Qureshi, Research Director for CAGE, said:

“The top CT officer is profoundly confused. On the one hand he is calling for a “whole society response” to the problem of “extremism” and terrorism, while on the other he denies he is presenting the now debunked conveyor belt theory or calling for new laws. Instead he seeks to conflate issues of religious choices, political belief and community relations with the idea of “extremism” in order to further consolidate state control on public discourse.”

“Rowley’s first duty should be to respect the rule of law and ensure professional competence of his staff for the safety and security of all, rather than fanning the flames of fear to justify, among other disturbing ideas, the targeting of families and children.”

“Our reports into the effects of counter terrorism laws, and more specifically PREVENT have been endorsed by hundreds of academics and echoed by trade unions, students bodies and professionals across the board. To dismiss this as ‘spreading disinformation’ and ‘undermining’ of government efforts against the threat of terrorism, is wholly disingenuous and a denial of reality”

(CC photo courtesy of 5Pillars)

(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.)