What is the Prevent duty?
As part of the UK Government’s strategy to reduce terrorism, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced new measures aimed at countering the risk of terrorism and radicalisation. The Government has definitions of extremism, radicalisation and terrorism..
Under the Act, all Higher Education Institutions should have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. This has become known as the ‘Prevent Duty’.
On 18 September 2015, the University became subject to the Prevent Duty which requires staff to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
Prevent is intended to deal with all kinds of extremist ideologies, including, for example, those motivated by politics, nationalism, environmentalism, animal welfare or religion.
This Duty is also placed on other organisations, such as schools, child care providers, FE Colleges, local authorities, health and social care providers and the police. The University has partnerships and close working relationships with other organisations that are subject to the Duty.
What is the University’s responsibility?
The University has to give proportionate consideration to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism when carrying out everyday functions and duties.
Preventing people becoming terrorists, or supporting terrorism, requires challenge to extremist ideas where these are used to legitimise terrorism, and intervention to stop people moving into terrorist-related activity.
All members of staff need to be aware of the Prevent duty and the University’s responsibilities. This briefing note sets out information on the general duty and the plans being made by the University to respond to the duty. There is also information on how to raise any matter of concern regarding a student or member of staff.
What is the response of the University?
The University is implementing the Prevent duty within the spirit and ethos of our mission and values.. The implementation is mindful of our commitment to freedom of speech, which is also a statutory duty, academic freedom and of our equality and diversity policy which is designed to provide a fair environment in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect. This means sustaining a culture that is free from discrimination linked to any personal characteristic.
The University values freedom of thought, conscience and religion and encourages open and reasoned debate. However, the manifestation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion is not an absolute right and intervention may be justified where this is considered necessary to protect the rights of others as set out in legislation.
The University’s work in this area is focused on enhancing the risk assessment of vulnerable students and external speakers to promote informed decision making and the reduction of the potential for unconscious bias via training, development and awareness-raising.The University is implementing the duty in such a way that we place emphasis on concern for individual wellbeing in the way that incidents and reports are handled.
What is the responsibility of members of staff when there is a concern?
Most members of staff are not expected to make a judgement about whether someone is at risk of being drawn into terrorism or not.
However, all members of staff have a responsibility to report internally any matters of concern, so that an appropriate assessment can be undertaken by those staff trained to do so. The University’s approach is to address any vulnerability of a student as a safety guarding issue, which is to be addressed under the care and concern procedures.
Therefore, the Prevent duty is exercised as part of the general approach of addressing matters that are an identifiable concern, which can include matters of mental health, substance abuse, isolation, serious aggression and significant behavioural change.
Members of staff are not to report any concerns externally; this will only be done by a small number of individuals who would review a case carefully before an external reference is made.
What could be a matter of concern?
You may become concerned about an individual's wellbeing. You may be concerned that the person is a risk to themselves or to others. Perhaps you have noticed a change in behaviour. You might notice that the person has stopped turning up. The person might have become withdrawn, or are acting differently. Maybe something the student has said something that concerned you, or it is something that someone else has said. There can be a variety of things or it could just be one thing that causes you concern.
Staff in front-line support roles may often be the first to notice if a student is experiencing difficulties.
If I am worried, what do I do about it?
Do not ignore your concerns, but check what you have noticed. You could speak to the student directly, or talk to colleagues to see if they share your concerns.
If, after checking, you identify a potential matter of concern, or one is referred to you, you should contact one of the two teams below as soon as possible for advice. This should always be your first step. You should not carry out an investigation yourself.
The steps are summarised in a Referral Flow Diagram.
Even if you have doubts as to whether a matter is relevant or not, you should always seek advice. Staff with the appropriate training will be able to assess if the matter requires further investigation or not.
Concerns about individual students (undergraduate, postgraduate or research) should be raised with Student Support, Health and Wellbeing team. This is done under the Student Cause for Care and Concern procedures. However, if you consider that someone is at immediate risk of harm you must telephone and speak to a manager in Student Support, Health & Wellbeing. Out of hours you should contact the Security staff.
Concerns about individual members of staff or anyone else connected with the University should be raised with Human Resources and Organisational Development team.
The relevant team member will advise you of appropriate steps to take, if any.
Any information reported under these arrangements should be regarded as confidential by all involved in the process. It will be processed in accordance with the data protection principles.
What happens afterwards should I raise a concern?
The relevant team member will carefully and sensitively consider the available evidence to assess whether the concern is genuine. The team member may seek further information from you or others to verify the information provided or to help assess the level of vulnerability and welfare of the person. At this stage, the team member will filter out any concerns that are established to be misinformed.
If the case is viewed to be sufficiently serious, it will be referred to a senior member of the University for a full assessment of risk and decision on any further action that may be required including, if necessary, external referral.
In very serious cases, where there is clear evidence that an individual is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, the University Prevent Co-ordinator will refer the person to an external Channel panel.
In deciding whether there is a case for referring a concern outside the University, consideration is to be given to the following questions:
- Is it appropriate and proportionate to share the information with outside agencies because there is, on the balance of probabilities, a serious risk posed by the individual to the wider public or to that individual?
- By making the referral, is the intention to protect the individual from criminal exploitation, grooming (being drawn into terrorism) or self-harm?
- Is the University under a specific legal obligation to make the referral?
What is Channel?
Channel is a multi-agency approach, which is led by the local authority (not the police or security service) to help support individuals who are identified as vulnerable for a variety of reasons. It is a programme focussed on providing support at an early stage to people. This includes those that are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Channel panels are concerned with preventing people being drawn into criminal activity rather than dealing with crimes and are required to consider referrals in line with the requirements to safeguard vulnerable individuals.
Channel is about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith (or none), ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist activity. Channel is an inclusive process, in that the individual concerned is part of the process.
Further information on Channel is available, and is set out in the Channel Vulnerability Assessment Framework.
Who is responsible for communication with the individual?
The University Prevent Co-ordinator is responsible for communication with the individual concerned as considered appropriate and necessary. The responsibility might be delegated to a specific individual.
What training is to be made available?
A key requirement is to ensure that members of staff receive appropriate information and training. All members of staff are expected to be aware of the Prevent Duty and to know what their responsibilities are in relation to it, including in particular knowing how to raise a matter of concern.
An e-learning Prevent training module is available for all members of staff. This is how you can access the module:
For specific groups, such as those who do not have access to computers, have a particular student-facing role, a front-line support role or a specialist role, there will be face-to-face training. Direct contact will be made with such groups through relevant managers and supervisors.
What are the Prevent requirements in relation to external speakers and events?
The Prevent guidance requires the University have policies and procedures in place for the management of events on campus and use of all University premises. The policies apply to all staff, students and visitors and have to set out what is required for any event to proceed.
The University has a strong commitment to ensuring freedom of speech and academic freedom within the law.
This has to be balanced by its legal duties in terms of both protecting students and staff and compliance with the law. Encouragement of terrorism and inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organisation are both criminal offences.
When deciding whether or not to host a particular speaker, we need to consider whether the views being expressed, or likely to be expressed, constitute extremist views that risk drawing people into terrorism or are shared by terrorist groups. In these circumstances the event should not be allowed to proceed except where such risk can be fully mitigated without cancellation of the event. This includes ensuring that, where any event is being allowed to proceed, speakers with extremist views that could draw people into terrorism are challenged with opposing views as part of that same event, rather than in a separate forum.
Where can I find more about booking external speakers and events?
Further information can be found on the Booking External Speakers website.
Who do I contact if I have any questions or comments?
If you have any questions or comments regarding any aspect of the University’s response to the Prevent Duty, you can contact the University Solicitor’s Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What information is available about Prevent?
Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
The Act sets out the requirements on public authorities, including universities.
Prevent duty guidance
In March 2015, Parliament approved guidance issued under section 29 of the act about how specified authorities are to comply with the Prevent duty. Specified authorities must have regard to this guidance when complying with the Prevent duty.
Two versions of the guidance were approved: one for specified authorities in England and Wales, and one for specified authorities in Scotland. These 2 documents were revised in July 2015, removing the chapters on further and higher education institutions.
The higher and further education prevent duty guidance came into effect on 18 September 2015.
HEFCE's monitoring of the Prevent duty
This monitoring framework is operated by HEFCE and is intended to satisfy Government that universities are fulfilling their duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism (the Prevent duty). The framework requires universities to provide information demonstrating their compliance.
Further information about the ‘Channel’ programme and the role of local panels in providing support to vulnerable people:
Understanding the impact of counter-terrorism measures on Muslim communities
A 2011 report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Understanding Islam, Challenging Islamophobia
An EU funded project run by the Reading International Solidarity Centre with the Centre for World Education in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Includes resources for anyone wishing to explore global citizenship, and tackle Islamophobia, in an educational setting.
Safe Campus Communities
Resources provided by Universities UK to advise universities, in the context of Prevent. This includes a wide range of information, case studies and links to research on radicalisation.
A series of films made for the BBC by journalist Catrin Nye and director Ben Lister, looking at how the authorities deal with radicals.