Counter-terrorism scheme 'should be independently reviewed'
The controversial Prevent counter-terrorism scheme is "not transparent" and should be independently reviewed, the terror laws watchdog has said.
David Anderson QC said the programme has become a "lightning conductor for a lot of dissatisfaction".
Mr Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the BBC's Daily Politics: " The problem is it's not transparent.
"Nobody really knows what is going on under Prevent. There all sorts of myths swirling round about training materials being biased against Muslims, for example."
He added: " We're in a position where people are worried, they are quite frightened, and it seems to me that what you need is somebody independent to come along, really have a look at it and try and sort out what is going and how it could be done better."
Asked if this should be part of his job, he said: "I don't think so.
"A QC is fine for the sort of stuff I do.
"But I think for Prevent you're looking at a much broader range of expertise, somebody who knows about prisons, about schools, and people from affected communities because the process has to have trust."
Prevent is one of four strands of Contest, the acronym given to the long-standing counter-terrorism strategy.
It has been at the centre of controversy. Last year Dal Babu , a former police chief, said Prevent has become a "toxic brand".
Prevent includes the Channel deradicalisation scheme.
Figures obtained last year revealed that people were being referred to Channel at a rate of eight every day between June and August.
Last year new measures were introduced to place a legal requirement on public bodies including schools and councils to stop people being drawn into terrorism, as part of efforts to counter the capacity of groups such as Islamic State (IS) to recruit young Britons.
Security Minister John Hayes said: "We have seen the devastating impact radicalisation can have on individuals, families and communities.
"Men, women and children are risking their lives and the lives of others by travelling to Syria to join the murderous group Daesh.
"That's why we have trained more than 400,000 people across local authorities, health and education sectors to recognise the signs of radicalisation since 2011, and why we work with hundreds of faith groups and community organisations every day.
"The success in training and engaging these groups has led to over 4,000 people being referred to the Channel programme.
"Following a rigorous assessment by professionals, only a few hundred of the most vulnerable of these people have required support.
"And it's why we introduced the new Prevent duty six months ago, after extensive consultation and with cross party support, to make it a legal requirement for schools to have due regard to preventing vulnerable young people in their care from being drawn into terrorism.
"Prevent is working. The Prevent Oversight Board monitors the effectiveness of the programme, and we keep every part of the strategy under constant review to make sure that it continues to tackle the risk of radicalisation effectively."