We’ve talked a lot about the UK’s ambitious plan to marry Orwellian thought crime designations with Minority Report style crime-prediction when it comes to stopping all the terrorism that’s barely occurred in the country. The basic idea is that the government will create a boogeyman-list of suspected future-terrorists, people who are not strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up marketplaces filled with children — but might! — while tasking the educational system with weeding out tiny, little terrorist children using software so laughably flawed that it ought to belong on HBO’s Silicon Valley. In other words: hey, great plan!
Well, counted amongst the fruit of all that idiotic labor is the result we all probably saw coming: a goddamn three-year-old has found his/her way onto the watchlist.
The three-year-old in the programme is from the borough of Tower Hamlets, and was a member of a family group that had been showing suspect behaviour. Many of the government’s counter-extremism measures typically relate to older children and adults – buy very young children can be referred if authorities are concerned about the effect of their families on them.
The idea being that the UK government’s “concern” is centered around extremist parents will produce extremist children as a matter of course and the best way to combat these must-eventually-be extremist toddlers is by putting them on a watchlist run by the same people who did all the stupidity I mentioned in the first paragraph. Sigh.
As it turns out, the number of people getting caught up in this prevent strategy system is pretty astounding.
They show that a total of 1,069 Londoners have been referred to the government’s “Channel” counter-extremism programme since the start of 2012. That means that the capital accounts for about a quarter of the 4,000 referrals to the programme nationwide since then. The Standard, which obtained the figures from the London Assembly, can also reveal that: Since September last year, 400 Channel referrals were made for teenagers and children under 18.
This is exactly what you’d expect when the government tasks a great many people who have no formalized training in identifying bad guys with identifying bad guys. It’s also exactly what you should expect when the government plan for building up a watch list of future-terrorists, including hundreds of innocent children as young as three years old, comes with a complete lack of common sense and is instead the product of fear mixed with nationalism. And this doesn’t even touch on the potential or real-life cases of abuse of the system, which are as inevitable as the sunrise.
Look, security is important, and terrorism is an actual thing, but going off the deep end to the point where you’ve got government eyes on toddlers isn’t a solution to any problem.