A number of policing and counter-extremism measures are embedded by the government into UK health services, at times requiring health workers to work closely with the police and other security agencies. In the case of the Prevent duty in the NHS, health workers are required to take on the role of identifying and reporting those who appear at risk of “being drawn into terrorism”.
These measures risk undermining therapeutic relationships, confidentiality and trust in practitioners – as well as drawing health services and workers into becoming an arm of policing and counter-terror agencies. These measures also disproportionately impact BAME communities and those with mental health conditions, and risk widening health inequalities.
Through our research and campaigns, Medact aims to shift popular and political understandings of ‘security’, from typically “hard” security measures such as border enforcement, a punitive criminal justice system, and counter-terror measures that criminalise entire communities. Instead, in the work we do, we advocate for collective and human security, health and well-being.
Sustainable security ‘prioritises the identification and resolution of underlying drivers of insecurity and conflict rather than their violent symptoms. Its emphasis is on preventative rather than reactive strategies.’ (Oxford Research Group)
Our Securitisation of Health group comprises health workers passionate about working on these issues through campaigning, lobbying and research. If you are interested in being involved, please email [email protected] or subscribe to the group’s mailing list for upcoming meetings and actions.
For more on the kind of work we have done on policing and counter-extremism measures in healthcare, you can:
- Read and sign our pledge to oppose and challenge Prevent in healthcare
- Read our report False Positives: the Prevent counter-extremism policy in healthcare
- Listen to the report launch event on the Medact podcast
- Read an article by our Peace and Security campaigner on the links between policing, prisons and mental healthcare