What is the Prevent duty?
The Prevent duty is a statutory duty which requires Relevant Higher Education Bodies (RHEBs) to have due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Prevent is about supporting and protecting people who might be susceptible to being drawn into terrorism.
Learn more about the Prevent duty.
Why do we need to observe the duty?
Since September 2015 there has been a requirement from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council England) to work under a framework and provide evidence and assessments that demonstrate that we are fulfilling the duty.
Our governing body, University Council, oversee our implementation of the duty and ensures we are exercising appropriate judgements in line with the agreed policies.
Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 RHEBs must have due regard to prevent people being drawn into terrorism, this is the Prevent duty, therefore we must implement the duty.
How has the University of Leicester approached the duty?
Prevent seeks to stop vulnerable people being radicalised, therefore the approach at Leicester has been one of safeguarding. Under safeguarding our University has a duty of care to protect vulnerable adults and children from neglect or abuse. Our safeguarding approach is all-encompassing and encourages everyone with concerns about well-being to take action.
What are the key focus points of the duty and what do we do?
The key focus of the duty has been determined by HEFCE and broadly covers the following areas:
- Governance – that we have a defined process which is followed in order to govern the duty
- Risk assessment – that we have assessed the risks relating to someone being drawn into terrorism and put implementation plans in place to mitigate the risk
- External speakers – that we have a process to ensure that we do not provide a platform for external speakers to express views which may result in people being drawn into terrorism. Event organisers are required to ensure that other statutory obligations are met such as freedom of speech and the equalities legislation.
- Training – that we have a plan in place to train and communicate how we approach the Prevent duty and to let people know what to do if they are concerned about someone being drawn into terrorism
- Welfare, pastoral care and chaplaincy – that we have defined processes for communicating concerns and that any partners we engage with have been appropriately checked
- IT policies – that we have clear acceptable use policies over our IT systems, including those used for research
- Students’ Union and societies – that we consult students on our approach to the Prevent duty
The ways in which we implement the Prevent duty are as follows:
- Governance – We have a clear governance procedure. An activity report on safeguarding which includes a section on Prevent is sent to the University Leadership Team on a termly basis and an Annual Report goes to University Council.
- Risk assessment – All risks are assessed at the current level and then reassessed following the application of mitigating actions. The risk assessment is formally reviewed on an annual basis.
- External speakers – We have a process for all external speakers and this is followed by every member of the University wishing to bring external speakers to the University. Student society chairs who regularly hold events with external speakers are aware of this process. This process does not just cover Prevent it also alerts relevant colleagues that an event is taking place which may need additional support or resource.
- Training – our Safeguarding Awareness Training is available on Blackboard. This includes information about Prevent, but more importantly tells you how to share through firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns or need support regarding well-being and safeguarding. This could be for yourself or because you are concerned for others.
- Welfare, pastoral and chaplaincy – We have a World Faith Advisory Group which provides support for Faith societies and advice to the University regarding Faith matters. We are using their knowledge as well as engaging in dialogue with student faith societies to help inform how we should provide facilities for students of faith in the long-term.
- IT policies – We have a defined IT user policy which everyone must sign up to and abide by. This is reviewed periodically. Within some areas of research access to sensitive materials is required and this is also covered by the IT user policy, the policy on researching and handling sensitive, extreme or radical material and the research ethics approvals process.
- Students Union and societies – Whilst there has been a consistent approach from the National Union of Students to state that they do not support Prevent, the engagement that we have had as a University from our Students’ Union has been fundamental in being able to shape the way we implement the duty we have under Prevent. The approach we have taken to Prevent under the umbrella of safeguarding has meant that we have developed frameworks which support both students and staff when concerns are raised.
Where have we acted?
We have been keen to ensure that the fundamental right to Freedom of Speech and academic freedom is maintained whilst recognising our duty under Prevent. This has meant that the shared protocol between the Students’ Union and University with regard to external speakers has seen only one speaker declined from the University, and there have been some speakers which our procedures have enabled us to host where other universities would not. The process for external speakers existed prior to the Prevent duty and was implemented to ensure the fundamental right to Freedom of Speech.
Through our safeguarding and Prevent processes where concerns have been raised we have been able to access relevant support services which have benefitted both staff and students.
Types of referrals have covered extremist far right activity and anti-social behaviour as well as concerns of individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism.
We have trained a team of Designated Safeguarding Officers who are responsible for receiving and acting on concerns. These officers are trained to respond appropriately to reports and to support anyone who makes a report, as well as supporting those who are reported and who may be vulnerable.