Dal Babu
Dal Babu is a former chief superintendent who stepped down from the Met in 2013 (BBC News)

A Muslim former senior police officer has criticised the government's anti-radicalisation strategy for being a "toxic brand".

Dal Babu, a former chair of the Association of Muslim Officers, claimed the £40m ($60m, €55m) per year Prevent scheme has alienated the British Muslim community and is perceived to be a spying programme.

"There's been a lot of concern about the Prevent strategy in the Muslim community over the last few years," he said.

"Prevent was bought in with good intentions but over the years it has alienated the Muslim community who see it as spying."

The ex-chief superintendent, who stepped down from the Metropolitan Police in 2013, also criticised the force's counter-terrorism team for being "virtually all white".

"There's a lack of diversity in the police and, equally important, a lack of diversity in children's services," he told the BBC.

"I'm not aware of a single ethnic minority director of children's services or independent chair of a safeguarding board."

The Prevent strategy responds to the ideological challenge from terrorism and provides practical help to "prevent people from being drawn into terrorism", according to the government.

The Home Office said it covers all forms of terrorism and priorities its work according to the risks the UK faces.

The programme and the security services have come under further scrutiny after the death of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London, as well as the revelation that infamous Islamic State (Isis) murderer Mohammed Emwazi (aka Jihadi John) lived in London.

A spokesperson from the Home Office defence defended the scheme and said ministers would be presenting a new extremism strategy soon.

"This government fundamentally revised the Prevent strategy in 2011 to ensure it challenges terrorist ideology, supports people who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and works with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation," a spokesperson said.

"We will soon be coming forward with a new extremism strategy that deals with the whole spectrum of extremism."