The UK police have launched a program that some are deeming Orwellian in nature, as it encourages its citizens to report concerns when they suspect that their loved ones are developing “extremist views” or are being “filled with hate” but doesn’t make any specific definitions.
“It can be hard to know what to do if you’re worried with someone close is expressing extreme views or hatred, which could lead to them harming themselves or others. Working with other organisations, the police protect vulnerable people from being exploited by extremists through a Home Office programme called Prevent,” read the program’s website.
The program also asks people to “act early” and express “concerns in confidence.”
“You won’t be wasting our time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them,” read the website description. What’s more, the website also published a few real-life examples of the people who were “helped” by the Prevent program.
The first example story the program pushes is of a student, John, who “started sharing extreme right wing posts on social media and attending rallies.” As John requested a teacher to accompany him for an “extremist” rally, his college reached out to Prevent, which ended up allotting a special mentor for him, known as an “Intervention Provider.” The Prevent program’s intervention provider apparently caused John to let go of extremist thoughts through help and support.
While the Prevent program’s site was rich with information about their activities, concrete definitions regarding key terms such as “extremist” are nowhere to be found. This invariably puts the decision of what’s extremist in the state’s hands. Here’s when things get even vague – the criteria to have someone referred to the program – “more important than any one sign is the feeling that something is not right.”
The program also compels individuals to “act early” when dealing with signs of “radicalism.”