Prevent database is secure but not secret | Letter
Your front-page lead (7 October) talks of a “secret” police Prevent database. It is not a very well kept “secret”; a quick online search brings up numerous references to its existence in public documents – and it is where the published annual referral statistics are sourced from. The Prevent pages on the National Police Chiefs’ Council website also refer to the fact Prevent officers keep records.
We do this for exactly the same purpose we document other forms of supportive safeguarding activity such as for child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking. It means we can be – and are – subject to oversight and accountability.
These records can only be accessed by a relatively small number of trained Prevent police professionals. Details would only be shared with mainstream police colleagues or other agencies on request and in exceptional circumstances.
Documents are regularly updated and deleted if it is no longer necessary or proportionate to keep them. This is in line with the Management of Police Information (MoPI) guidelines.
Describing a documented database as “secret” risks causing unjustified distrust in a multi-agency programme that seeks to protect those vulnerable to all forms of radicalisation and keep our communities safe.
I can only hope that the upcoming independent review will put an end to claims that Prevent is anything other than safeguarding activity, which is much needed now and for the foreseeable future.
Chief Constable Simon Cole
NPCC lead for Prevent
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