Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit

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Group.png Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism UnitRdf-icon.png
FormationJuly 2009
Typepolice
Membership• Nick Croft
• George Denholm

The Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit (SPVEU) was setup in July 2009 by the Scottish (SNP) Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS) in order to co-ordinate the delivery of the Prevent strand of Contest, the United Kingdom's counter-terror strategy, in Scotland.

The SPVEU is currently being coordinated by Nick Croft and George Denholm and is situated within the Equalities, Social Inclusion and Sport Division, which is currently headed by Liz Hunter. Even though counter-terrorism policy formulation is reserved by the Westminster government, the actual implementation and prevention of violent extremism is managed and controlled by the Scottish government and it’s devolved, local agencies.

According to the Scottish Government Website: “all Prevent activity in Scotland is reported to the CONTEST (counter terrorism) Scotland Board. This Board oversees the delivery of CONTEST in Scotland and involves representatives from across the Scottish Government and national and local statutory partner.”[1]

The SPVEU works in close cooperation with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Police Services, local statutory agencies and the Muslim community, amongst others.

Views of SPVEU

At a Conference for Scottish Institute for Policing Research, the coordinators of the SPVEUNick Croft and George Denholm stated that in relation to whether the "official response to the terrorist threat [has] created more problems that it has solved", both argued that:

  • Initial (and to a lesser extent recent) messaging and communications from the UK Government around Islamist, Islamic Terrorist, Jihadi, Muslim Radicals was unhelpful and alienated key community partners.
  • The original Prevent Strategy blurred the distinction between broader race and faith equality policy objectives and the need to focus on tackling specific push and pull factors which cause people to support, or become, violent extremists or terrorists.
  • The initial reticence to share details of the local threat assessment amongst local delivery partners created an “air of conspiracy” amongst those partners.
  • Recent CT Bill proposals on DNA fingerprint retention, pre charge detention and glorification offences are causing significant concern in key community partners.
  • Current CT legislative Section 44 powers have led to a palpable sense of grievance in communities, especially with those passing through ports and airports.[2]

HOWEVER, they also argued that:

  • Recent iterations of the refreshed Prevent Strategy are evidence based, targeted and express clearly the role and importance of community involvement. They provide a clear focus on tackling the specific sociological and psychological factors that contribute to violent extremism and terrorism. There is a clear distinction between Prevent and broader race and faith equality policy objectives.
  • OSCT - RICU research on communications and messaging has led to a step change in the approach to official communications which has improved engagement by community partners.
  • The Prevent Strategy has forced pursue and prevent related functions to work more closely together to explore a “vulnerability” approach in respect of areas, institutions and individuals.
  • CONTEST has led to a broader concept of resilience that acknowledges the importance of community involvement and re assurance.
  • The Prevent Strategy has led to a greater understanding of the nature of British Muslim communities and Islam within government. This has “spin off” benefits in other policy areas.
  • The recent coverage of far right violent extremism (e.g. NCTT) has given the Prevent agenda an improved sense of balance.
  • The CONTEST Strategy has led to a step change in the organisational culture, public pronouncements and partnership approach between the Security Services / local Police Force Special Branch functions and the wider public sector / community stakeholders.[3]

Criticisms

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) issued a critical press release regarding the setting up of the SPVEU one month before prior to it’s commenccment. It called the creation of the SPVEU “madness” [4] and criticised the Prevent strand of Contest as “a fundamentally racist programme that treats the whole of the Muslim community as a suspect community”. [5] The SNP also faced heavy criticism. SACC argued that the SNP stated that they opposed the War in Iraq but by accepting responsibility for a Westminster led initiative on counter-terrorism, they have taken on a programme “that has been poisoned by an intimate connection with the war [in Iraq]”.[6] They also believe that the Scottish Government should not have taken on the programme, or become involved with it because they have “no power to change the fundamental flaws in the strategy”. [7]

In a damning verdict on the SPVEU and the Scottish government, SACC stated:

people in Scotland to steer well clear of the Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit and the Prevent programme. We hope that they will turn instead to groups that work in the same spirit as we do – groups like the Stop the War Coalition, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the various other groups campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people and for other oppressed groups. Campaigns like these bring people of all communities together in clear opposition to racism, war and injustice and in support of values held dear by all decent people.[8]

See also


References

  1. Preventing Violent Extremism, The Scottish Government, accessed 19 February 2009
  2. The Second SIPR Annual Conference & Annual Lecture: Policing Scotland in a European Context: Programmes & Abstracts, 2 September 2008, The Scottish Institute for Policing Research, accessed 20 February 2010 – p.16
  3. The Second SIPR Annual Conference & Annual Lecture: Policing Scotland in a European Context: Programmes & Abstracts, 2 September 2008, The Scottish Institute for Policing Research, accessed 20 February 2010 – p.16
  4. Counter-Terrorism Unit Undermines Scotland’s Struggle Against Racism Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), 11 June 2009, accessed 19 February 2010
  5. Counter-Terrorism Unit Undermines Scotland’s Struggle Against Racism Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), 11 June 2009, accessed 19 February 2010
  6. Counter-Terrorism Unit Undermines Scotland’s Struggle Against Racism Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), 11 June 2009, accessed 19 February 2010
  7. Counter-Terrorism Unit Undermines Scotland’s Struggle Against Racism Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), 11 June 2009, accessed 19 February 2010
  8. Counter-Terrorism Unit Undermines Scotland’s Struggle Against Racism Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), 11 June 2009, accessed 19 February 2010