Counter-terrorism police are urging companies and their employees to keep an eye on workers for signs of radicalisation.
Public-sector workers are already subject to the Prevent duty. Part of the guidance for implementing Prevent in universities was recently described as “unlawful” by the High Court of Appeal.
Prevent co-ordinator Nik Adams said warehouse staff in particular were a source of concern because they spend time with the same people “day in, day out” with little contact from outsiders.
Adams compared close-knit workforces to internet chat forums, saying, “if staff work in small teams, in a closed environment with no public visibility”, staff have no accountability to “manage their own behaviour”.
He added: “They create these echo chambers where vulnerable people could be drawn in to a particular way of thinking”.
Police are already working with “30 to 40” large employers including Tesco, McDonald’s and River Island.
Critics say workers could be unfairly stigmatised.
Gracie Bradley of human rights group Liberty said: “The last thing that should be happening is any further extension of this policy into workplaces and communities.”
She continued: “The issue with Prevent is that it’s about identifying behaviours which are pre-criminal and which may not be problematic at all.
“I would have concerns that this training would encourage employers to profile people based on their beliefs or perceived beliefs and that’s not a road we should go down.”
Bradley added that while companies would not be required to report people at risk of being led into extremism, such plans infringe on employees’ human rights.
And the Financial Times reports that companies will be encouraged to appoint an extremism representative to “open a referral pathway” to alert counter-terrorism police to suspect individuals.