Shawcross, Knowsley and Policing Britishness

Thursday, 16 February 2023 — Institute of Race Relations

Just two days after William Shawcross, reviewer of the government’s Prevent Programme, criticised its ‘expansive approach’ towards the ‘extreme right’, it was supporters of the far Right, some armed with hammers, that orchestrated a riot, hurling lit fireworks at the Suites Hotel, Knowsley, Merseyside, which housed asylum seekers (Far-right leaflets claimed ‘5-star Hotels for Migrants Whilst Brits Freeze’.) Displaying the patrician’s knack for ignoring the blatantly obvious, Shawcross had loftily surmised that ‘mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream right-leaning commentary’ have ‘no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation’. No doubt, those politicians who, in the past months, have indulged in stigmatising rhetoric and inhumane policy will find consolation in Shawcross’s conclusion.

But campaigners, both in England and Ireland, will not be easily tricked into disavowing the link between extreme-right rhetoric and policy and violence against migrants and refugees, as highlighted in part two of our four-part series Britannia Enchained which is published today. The escalation of violence in Knowsley is the latest in a relentless far-right campaign targeting accommodation for asylum seekers, which each week we document in our calendar of racism and resistance. A wave of anti-immigrant demonstrations has also taken place in Ireland since November last year, rallying around the slogans ‘Ireland is full’ and ‘Irish Lives Matter’, with protests outside hotels housing asylum seekers leaving residents scared, confused and re-traumatised. A key tactic that has provided ammunition for these protests is the weaponising of violence against women and girls, as we regularly report on IRR News.

In this week’s calendar, we document further criticisms of the Shawcross review, as well as his claim that ‘anti-Prevent narratives dominate the discourse in British universities’. And in another move that indicates a new low for European asylum policy, we note the European Council’s response to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has been to strengthen measures to ‘prevent unauthorised migration’ from the region.

IRR News team

Britannia Enchained, a four-part series Britannia Enchained 1 & 2 out now

Britannia Enchained is the latest four-part series examining the state of human rights in the UK, by IRR Vice-Chair and retired barrister Frances Webber. Available to read now, parts one and two focus on policing, digital surveillance, migration and the increasing racialisation of British citizenship. Parts three and four will be released next week. To receive each part direct to your inbox, sign up to the mailing list. You can also read last year’s series, Impunity Entrenched.

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A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Calendar of Racism & Resistance

In this week’s Calendar, we highlight criticisms of the Shawcross PREVENT review, along with the fall out from a far-Right orchestrated riot outside asylum-seeker accommodation in Knowsley, Merseyside.

In another move that indicates a new low for European asylum policy, we note the European Council’s response to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has been to strengthen measures to ‘prevent unauthorised migration’ from the region.

Find these stories and thousands more on our Register of Racism and Resistance database.

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