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Divorced but still co-habiting? Britain’s Prevent/community cohesion policy tension

Discussions on PolicyRegions

British PoliticsJournal abstract

The relationship between Britain’s Prevent programme and wider multiculturalist policies of community cohesion has provoked much discussion but there has been less focus on how this relationship has been experienced at the local operational level. This article utilises available empirical data to analyse the nature of this policy relationship, arguing that Prevent has progressively side-lined and ‘crowded out’ cohesion practice at both the local and national level to the detriment of both counter-terrorism and community relations. Although questioning the need for Prevent, local authorities reluctantly operationalised it through a ‘marriage’ with an initially equally resourced cohesion programme but the conceptual flaws and political weight of Prevent generated a perception and reality of enhanced securitisation and the side-lining of cohesion. The political solution of the 2011 Prevent Review was an organisational ‘divorce’ between the two policies and the government departments responsible for them. The article argues, however, that such separation was never possible at the local level and that they continue to co-habit in an unequal and loveless relationship. Despite some positive aspects, the 2011 Review has led to an increasingly securitised and still flawed Prevent, while community cohesion has officially been disowned by the Coalition government.

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