What is the Prevent Duty?
Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (the Act) places a duty on certain bodies, including Higher Education Institutions, in the exercise of their functions to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” – this is known as the Prevent Duty.
The Government’s Prevent work is intended to deal with all kinds of terrorist threats to the UK. The most significant of these threats is currently from terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, and Al Qa’ida associated groups. But terrorists associated with the extreme right (e.g. white supremacist ideology of extreme right-wing groups) also pose a continued threat to safety and security.
Complying with the Prevent Duty is a statutory requirement and the Government has issued statutory guidance to support Higher Education Institutions to do this which is published here:
What is the UCO doing to Comply and Engage with the Prevent Duty?
The UCO has reviewed the above guidance and works in liaison with the Office for Students (OfS) (the body that monitors the implementation of the duty in the higher education sector in England at the Government’s request) to put in place the following to comply with the Prevent Duty:
1. Prevent Requirement: Assess the risks associated with Prevent in the context of their local situation and draw up a proportionate action plan to mitigate those identified risks.
a) UCO Action: A risk assessment and action plan has been produced to assess where and how students might be at risk of being drawn into terrorism and what is in place or needs to be put in place to mitigate those risks. This risk assessment and action plan is regularly reviewed by the UCO Management Team and Board of Directors.
2. Prevent Requirement: Have responsive, effective welfare support systems, ensuring concerns about students’ wellbeing can be acted on in a joint up way, drawing on the right links to Prevent structures (such as local authorities or the police) if necessary. Ensure internal mechanisms and external arrangements are in place for sharing information about vulnerable individuals when appropriate.
a) UCO Action: The UCO has in place appropriate welfare support systems for students including a Student Support team comprising of Head of Student Services, Student Support Officer and Learning Advisors who work with students to provide welfare, pastoral and learning support.
b) UCO Action: The UCO’s Student Attendance and Retention Group (SARG) has been in place for a number of years and identifies student attendance issues and reasons for these. The Student Support team is represented at this committee enabling the sharing of information about vulnerable students as appropriate.
c) UCO Action: The UCO has revised its Children and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy to include safeguarding against radicalisation, This has subsequently been re-named as the UCO’s Safeguarding Policy to similarly enable students and staff to raise concerns in an appropriate way and, if necessary, share information about vulnerable individuals with external agencies.
d) UCO Action: The UCO has in place a Public Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy through which concerns about individuals may be reported and which enable these to be escalated appropriately.
3. Prevent Requirement: Have systems in place for assessing and mitigating risks around external speakers and events on campus, while maintaining the existing duty to promote freedom of speech.
a) UCO Action: The UCO operates an External Speaker Policy to ensure that external speakers and events, including external groups who may use the UCO as a venue for hire, are risk assessed to ensure that appropriate mitigations are put in place should the speaker / event express extremist views which risk drawing people into terrorism.
b) UCO Action: The UCO’s Freedom of Speech Policy has been reviewed to ensure that our obligations to freedom of speech and academic freedom are maintained.
4. Prevent Requirement: Ensure senior managers are engaged with the Prevent duty, build links with external Prevent partners, and arrange ongoing Prevent training for relevant staff.
a) UCO Action: The UCO’s Board of Directors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the UCO complies with the Prevent Duty and are required to complete Prevent training to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities to the Prevent Duty. This is refreshed annually.
b) UCO Action: Staff are also provided with training about the Prevent Duty relevant to their role. This includes management staff, Course Leaders, Unit Leaders, Clinic Team Leaders, academic staff, student support and welfare staff, and SU Officers to ensure that all are aware of their responsibilities to the Prevent Duty and can report any concerns through appropriate channels. Training is normally provided annually.
5. Prevent Requirement: Implement an IT usage policy which covers the Prevent duty.
a) UCO Action: The UCO’s ICT policies have been reviewed and a new ICT Acceptable Use Policy has been produced and covers the Prevent Duty. This ensures that one aspect of unacceptable use of the UCO’s computing and internet facilities includes accessing, creating, transmitting, storing or displaying terrorist or extremist material in line with the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales.
b) UCO Action: The UCO also uses a web filter to ensure that known terrorist and other offensive websites are blocked and that an alert is made should access to such sites be attempted.
c) UCO Action: The UCO has reviewed its Social Media Policy to ensure that this also reflects the UCO’s responsibilities to complying with the Prevent Duty.
6. Prevent Requirement: Ensure that students’ unions and societies are aware of, and are consulted with on policies concerning activities on campus.
a) UCO Action: Students’ Union (SU) Officers are provided training on the Prevent Duty and External Speaker Policy to ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities to the Prevent Duty. Training is offered to SU Officers and Student Representatives on an annual basis as part of their induction / training session.
Which Policies are related to the Prevent Duty and where are they Published?
The following policies are all related to the Prevent Duty and are published on the UCO’s intranet here:
- Safeguarding Policy
- Public Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy
- External Speaker Policy
- Freedom of Speech Policy
- ICT Acceptable Use Policy
- Social Media Policy
- Security Policy
Who Monitors our Compliance with the Prevent Duty?
The Office for Students (OfS) is responsible for monitoring relevant English higher education providers' engagement with the Prevent duty. The OfS will monitor whether we are carrying out the duty effectively and will report findings back to us and the Government on a regular basis using a monitoring framework which is published here:
What should I do if I have any questions?
If you have any questions about the Prevent Duty or reporting any concerns, please contact the UCO’s Prevent Lead:
Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive
020 7089 5326
Prevent Online Resources
The Office for Students monitors what higher education (HE) providers do to prevent people being drawn into terrorism:
The Prevent Duty Guidance published by the Home Office can be viewed or downloaded here:
Working with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, UUK and BIS broad guidance, good practice and HE-specific training materials can be accessed through the Safe Campus Communities website here:
Working with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) has published an illustrative practice note for governing bodies regarding their role on Prevent:
Jisc offers free online facilitated training which builds on WRAP (Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent):