False Positives: the Prevent counter-extremism policy in healthcare

2 July 2020 —

False Positives: the Prevent counter-extremism policy in healthcare is a new Medact report, written by Medact Research Manager Dr. Hilary Aked.

The report examines the implementation and impacts of the Prevent duty in the NHS, looking at the interaction between the duty and other professional duties. It analyses and gives a breakdown of the figures relating to the number of referrals to Prevent across a number of NHS Trusts, discussing the mental health and racialised implications of the duty. The report concludes with key recommendations to both Government and medical bodies based on the findings.

The report shows that:

  • There is racial and religious disproportionality in who is reported under the Prevent duty, with Asians reported to prevent 4 times more than non-Asians, and Muslims reported 8 times more than non-Muslims. Tools used to train health workers how to assess radicalisation risk contain racial bias.
  • People with mental health conditions are more likely to be reported to Prevent, and there are acute ethical concerns with a secretive counter-terror project embedding NHS mental health professionals into police-led operations.
  • Prevent referrals can damage people’s physical and mental health, by inflicting damage on existing therapeutic relationships, interrupting care, and even triggering mental health problems in individuals with no prior psychiatric history.
  • There is evidence that Prevent undermines key duties of health professionals, including confidentiality, duty of care to the patient, and consent.

Download the report [PDF]

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