Priti Patel hints at changes to Prevent scheme after murder of Sir David Amess

‘Lone wolf’ attacker Ali Harbi Ali was known to authorities.

17 April 2022

The Home Secretary has hinted at reforms to the Prevent programme after the homegrown terrorist who murdered Sir David Amess was sentenced to die in jail.

Priti Patel, who was a close friend of the veteran MP, said “there are things that need to change” amid a litany of concerns about how the government’s anti-terror scheme is working since it emerged several recent attackers were previously referred to the deradicalisation strategy.

Ali Harbi Ali was handed a whole-life tariff last week, meaning he will most probably die behind bars after he carried out his killing in a warped retaliation against politicians who voted to bomb Syria.

An unrepentant Ali told his trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

Mr Justice Sweeney (left) handing down a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, to Ali Harbi Ali (second right) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Mr Justice Sweeney (left) handing down a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, to Ali Harbi Ali (second right) (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The court heard the so-called “lone wolf” became known to authorities around this time as his school performance plummeted and he was referred to Prevent, but continued plotting in secret.

Prior involvement with Prevent features in other recent cases, including that of Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah who murdered three men in a park and Sudesh Amman, responsible for stabbings in Streatham, both in 2020, as well as the 2017 Parsons Green Tube train attacker Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan, among others.

William Shawcross, a former chairman of the Charity Commission, is leading a long-awaited independent review of Prevent.

While anticipated to be published soon, potentially even in the coming months, it is understood Home Office officials and ministers are yet to see the findings.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Patel said: “This Prevent review is really important to me.

“I can’t prejudge a review but it’s quite clear, and I say this from my own observations and what I see, that there are things that need to change.”

When asked whether she was frustrated about how long it is taking, she said she was “not going to get into that because the review needs to come to me first and foremost” but added: “But clearly from the observations that I’ve seen – and there have been quite a few now and instances as well – it’s right that a) we have this review but there will definitely be things that we need to change.”

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