The founder of controversial addict sterilisation programme Project Prevention is to arrive in London next week to cement plans to bring its services to the UK.
However, the Charity Commission has told Civil Society that the American charity has made no application to register in the UK, and may be prevented from successfully applying.
Project Prevention founder Barbara Harris contacted Civil Society to tell of her arrival in the UK on 18 May to “finalise plans to pay addicts in the UK” but the Charity Commission has advised that no application has been received from the American charity and said: “If an organisation is a charity under a foreign legal system, this does not necessarily mean that it would be recognised as charitable under our legal system.”
“Every application to the Commission for registration is considered on its own merit. This includes looking at the organisation's objects and purposes and taking into account how the organisation meets our charitable status and public benefit tests,” said a spokesperson for the Commission.
But asked whether or not the actions of a charity being morally questionable would be a factor in the application’s success, the Commission advised that it would not, only whether it fits within the legal criteria or not.
Project Prevention, formerly known as ‘CRACK’ - Children Require A Caring Kommunity - has been practising in the US for over ten years. Harris founded the charity on the back of her personal experience fostering children of addicts, leading her to the conclusion that “these women should be offered financial inducement to be sterilised, or given long-term contraception to stop them having children they are unable to care for".
Over the years Project Prevention has produced several controversial advertisements including a leaflet which reads: "Don't let pregnancy get in the way of your crack habit" and a poster which reads: "She has her Daddy's eyes and her Mommy's heroin addiction."
Harris, who has six children of her own and four adopted children, advised that Project Prevention had received over 400 requests from the UK to bring the service over here and that it has already received a donation of $20,000 from a London resident through the American charity. It now runs a UK page on its website asking for UK-only donations.
The Commission confirmed that if Project Prevention is not a registered charity within the UK it would still be able to fundraise and carry out activities, “but they wouldn’t be able to call themselves a charity”.
The UK’s largest drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction has openly expressed its opposition to the programme, stating: “Addaction firmly believes that there is no place for Project Prevention in the UK because their practices are morally reprehensible and irrelevant.
“Sex education and contraceptive advice is part of drug treatment work in this country. Women who use drugs can access all types of contraception free on the NHS including a number of long-term options.”