The geography of pre-criminal space: epidemiological imaginations of radicalisation risk in the UK Prevent Strategy, 2007–2017
This article explores geographical and epistemological shifts in the deployment of the UK Prevent strategy, 2007–2017. Counter-radicalisation policies of the Labour governments (2006–2010) focused heavily upon resilience-building activities in residential communities. They borrowed from historical models of crime prevention and public health to imagine radicalisation risk as an epidemiological concern in areas showing a 2% or higher demography of Muslims. However, this racialised and localised imagination of pre-criminal space was replaced after the election of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010. Residential communities were then de-emphasised as sites of risk, transmission and pre-criminal intervention. The Prevent Duty now deploys counter-radicalisation through national networks of education and health-care provision. Localised models of crime prevention (and their statistical, crime prevention epistemologies) have been de-emphasised in favour of big data inflected epistemologies of inductive, population-wide “safeguarding”. Through the biopolitical discourse of “safeguarding vulnerable adults”, the Prevent Duty has radically reconstituted the epidemiological imagination of pre-criminal space, imagining that all bodies are potentially vulnerable to infection by radicalisers and thus warrant surveillance.