Disability benefit cuts, the Met Police – and the terror threat

  • Official training course highlights terror threat from man with mental illness angry at benefit cuts
  • Designed to enable frontline staff to prevent people becoming terrorists
  • Training relates to Channel programme, which has seen hundreds of children referred to it

By Chaminda Jayanetti

A bizarre online anti-terror training course from the College of Policing and the Metropolitan Police warns of the terror threat posed by someone who blames the British government and “the greed of the bankers” for losing his disability benefit.

The training module covers the Channel programme, part of the government’s controversial anti-extremism strategy called Prevent.

The course – called “Channel General Awareness” – has been created by the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies, a joint initiative of the College of Policing and the Metropolitan Police that delivers online training.

“Vulnerable to radicalisation”

One of the aims of the course is to enable participants to “identify factors that can make people vulnerable to radicalisation”.

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The course starts by noting: “There isn’t a single profile of someone who may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism”.

It goes on to say that frontline public service staff “can identify patterns of behaviour that show whether a person is engaged in an ideology, is intent on causing harm or capable of committing violent acts”.

It then shows a number of fictional case studies of people at risk of being drawn into terrorism, to help frontline staff in public services “identify all the factors relating to vulnerability to radicalisation”.

Blaming the government … for government benefit cuts

One of the fictional case studies is a 32-year-old man called Callum, who has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia but hasn’t been taking his medication. He has been referred to the local mental health crisis team from A&E.

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“Callum has been complaining of hearing voices and having visual hallucinations,” the course explains. “These intrusive thoughts are telling him to hurt people. He knows it’s wrong but he’s been taking his anger out on furniture and doors.

“Callum was discharged from the military 18 months ago. He was medically assessed for benefits which led to him no longer qualifying for Personal Independence Payment. He blames the British government and the greed of the bankers for their part in his financial downfall and believes they are the reason he is not getting help and support.”

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The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a disability benefit for which the government recently tried to restrict eligibility. The success rate of applicants for PIP has fallen markedly in the last two years, as Sentinel News recently revealed.

The case study continues: “Callum has told the [mental health] crisis team that he has experience of working with nitrates and explosives in the Corps of Royal Engineers.

“When asked if he had ever thought of self-harm Callum stated that he had once attempted suicide but if he was going to do it he’d take half the establishment and the banks with him as well.”

Having set out Callum’s current state, the course attempts to show how he could represent a terror threat: “Callum’s extreme anti-establishment views mixed with mental health issues show that he has reasons for engagement and intent to involve himself in terrorism.

“It is however, his military background and knowledge of explosives that make him capable of carrying out his violent intentions.”

Staging an intervention

The course explains that frontline staff who have concerns about individuals should make referrals to the local police force’s Channel scheme.

The government says that Channel aims to identify and support people at risk of being drawn into terrorism. It does not itself involve criminal prosecutions, though critics fear it casts suspicion on innocent people for trivial statements. It is an early intervention programme, so children often come under its remit – a particular source of controversy.

The training course says that the support provided by Channel takes the form of various “interventions”, ranging from constructive activities to one-to-one mentoring and more comprehensive levels of support.

In the case study, Callum is given a support package involving referral to his community mental health team, signposting to a military veterans’ counselling charity, and meeting a Jobcentre advisor to arrange a place on a bricklaying course. This leads to a full-time job and a network of friends, and his therapy and clinical treatment mean he no longer has negative or suicidal thoughts.

It is not apparent why a referral to the Channel programme would be necessary in order for any of this support to be provided. There is no mention of his disability benefit being restored – PIP is paid to people in work as well as out of work.

While there is evidence of Islamic extremists preying on people with mental health issues, the course’s identification of an extreme left-wing terror threat is unsupported by evidence. There have been sporadic anarchist protests that have involved violence (mostly against property), but Britain has never had a far-left terrorist threat, unlike other countries in Western Europe.

It may be that “Callum” was included to ethnically balance out the other case studies, two of whom are Muslim – a young schoolboy and an Afghan asylum seeker. The final case study is a white female young offender who develops links with Combat 18, a violent neo-Nazi group that in reality is virtually defunct in the UK.

The Channel General Awareness course was launched in late 2014. The extent of its usage is not clear, although it appears to form part of ongoing training for social workers and other council staff, NHS staff and education workers in different areas.

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11 thoughts on “Disability benefit cuts, the Met Police – and the terror threat

  1. So I am a terrorist now along with all other disabled people who correctly say we were attacked by govt while it gave money to banks, nice to know, also what outrageous bigoted assumptions about schizophrenia, that it makes people violent, utter cobblers. What made him violent is military training/grooming and being shafted by the establishment he was foolish enough to work for once.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I may well be getting close to being one, watch out in case I put spikes on the wheels of my wheelchair, or run people down as I glide around politicians .

    I’ve seen the police at work in the miners strike lucky they do not kick the stuffing out of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a load of bollocks! But then we shouldn’t be surprised since Britain has degenerated into a fascist police state, where the police protect the corruption of the rich and victimise the poor and the oppressed. It is not the nice cosy world of Dixon of Dock Green any more…though it probably never was.

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  4. The Prevent training is part of the safeguarding training in schools and colleges. My understanding is that if I was to come across someone I thought was at risk of radicalisation, I would refer them to the safeguarding team, they would then discuss the issues with the student and any other agency’s that supports them, before referring to the police if it was considered necessary. Colleges at least, are able to put pressure on mental health services to respond to students mental health or health issues more quickly if the feel they are at danger of hurting themselves or others, that has always been in place and is called safeguarding. The idea of radicalisation is an addition to this training and could include someone who has become an animal rights activist. The idea is to try to prevent vulnerable people from becoming radicalised to the point where they brake the law. Being involved in a radical group of what ever kind is not a problem it’s the point at which they brake the law that the government sees as a problem. When they say terrorists they don’t just mean religious extremists.
    Having done this training and talked to others that have, I can say that even before prevent training was introduced, had someone come to me presenting with these kinds of issues I would have refered to safeguarding as this person obviously needs help getting the support available. It isn’t always as easy as it should be to get the various agency’s to work together to support those who need it, we all know that.
    As a tutor, I personally think this training is pointless, as we already do all this stuff, it’s just Insighting even more division, painting teachers, college lectures, social work staff and NHS staff as the enemy which couldn’t be further from the truth. And wasting massive amounts of money in the process.
    As for the obvious omission that PIP is an in work benefit to which this man would have been untitled and to which he should not have been refused in his obvious mental distress, is the same old government misinformation we’ve been fighting for, for years…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is quite possibly the most insidious form of mental health discrimination I have encountered in many a year!

    If this course is delivering this training they are effectively embedding stigma directly into police policy.

    Seems the big charities MIND, Time to Change are ignoring tweets (quelle surprise) – so no idea where they stand. Rethink said they were going to have their ‘media team’ look at it.

    I don’t hold out much hope that they will be overly concerned. Perhaps they are the training providers/consultants?! Nothing surprises me any longer.

    Met Police and Training Academy are so far silent on the issue.

    It needs wider audience, but mental health rarely gets that.

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  6. This MUST stop! People with Mental Health Problems/ILLNESS are NOT criminals or Terrorists’. This TORY government are the real Terrorists’ and CRIMINALS! The police are doing their dirty work! Whats next? Unemployed? Poor? People who have lost their jobs? People who are Gay-Bi-Trans? People also of African decent? Animal Lovers? It seems to me as though the days of the ‘Third Reich’ are well and truly alive and kicking here in the UK! Elderly people will they also be classed as ‘Terrorists? Because they cant get their benefits ETC! We dont need this kind of FORCED legislation to treat people as Criminals or Terrorists’. GESTAPO here we come! Welcome to Hitler’s Britain 2016! Its absolute DISGRACE!!

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  7. There is a clear implication in the example of the fictional Callum that mental health issues, and in particular schizophrenia, are an indicator of increased potential for terrorism. It’s uncomfortable on so many levels, not least that of realising that the training of officers who will be our front line defenders is so inept, and misinformed. The subtext that holding opposing views to the current Government’s policies is unpatriotic and potentially criminal is another issue.

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