Patel calls for ‘fundamental and institutional change’ in wake of Prevent report

Former home secretary Priti Patel has called for “fundamental and institutional change” in Government in the wake of a review which recommended an overhaul of the Prevent anti-terror programme.

Earlier this month the current Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs the scheme, which aims to stop people turning to terrorism, needed “major reform” and must focus on security, “not political correctness”.

The programme needs to “better understand the threats we face and the ideology underpinning them”, she said, after a long-awaited report made 34 recommendations for improvement.

Discussing the future of the Prevent programme at a Policy Exchange event in Westminster on Monday, Ms Patel described the review as a “watershed” moment for the Government which highlighted “basic things” officials and ministers need to “learn” and act upon.

She told the audience: “This is a moment for change. Actually, we need fundamental, institutional change within the heart of government.”

As well as across Whitehall, this needed to take place within all state institutions and government bodies, Ms Patel added.

“The review is absolutely fundamental. It’s a watershed moment. It’s put out on the table the good, the bad and the ugly, and we need that  – there are some basic, basic things for government to learn from this review.

“There has to be a real stop-and-think moment across government.”

Ms Patel said there was a “lack of accountability” for how money was spent by the Government on Prevent, in response to questions about officials allocating funds to certain community groups.

Dame Sara Khan, former commissioner for countering extremism, who also spoke at the event, said Prevent had “systematically failed” to tackle the “non-violent extremist threat” and said there should be a specific, separate programme for doing this.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The independent review of Prevent paves the way for a stronger, more transparent and proportionate approach to stopping people from being radicalised into terrorism.

“Work to implement the recommendations of the review has already started, and the majority of recommendations are expected to be actioned within 12 months.”