The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a package of measures aimed at countering the risk of terrorism and radicalisation. It creates a statutory duty for specified public authorities to ‘have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’, known as the Prevent duty.
Universities became subject to the new Prevent duty on 18 September 2015, with HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) given responsibility for assessing how they meet the requirements under the new duty.
Essentially, we are required to assess the risk of our students being drawn into terrorism and to set in place robust policies and procedures, which are fit for purpose, to mitigate that risk. We are required to pay particular attention to external speakers and events on campus, staff training, student welfare and pastoral care and IT policies.
We also need to balance our Prevent duties against our legal duties in terms of ensuring both freedom of speech and academic freedom, whilst also protecting student and staff welfare.
The Prevent Working Group
The University has established a Prevent Working Group, chaired by Tracy Cullis (Director of Student Services) to consider in detail how the University should best give effect to the statutory Prevent duty. Membership of the Group includes representatives from the Students’ Union, Protection, Student Services, International Office, Estates, ITS, Futurelets, CULC, CUC, Legal Services, Learning and Development and West Midlands Police.
The group is in contact with counterparts at other universities and local organisations
Our compliance with the Act and guidance will be monitored by HEFCE, which has published a Monitoring framework for the HE sector, setting out a timetable for HE to submit evidence of what they are doing to comply with the duty.
Phase 1: initial assessment
By 22 January 2016 higher education institutions will be required to submit to HEFCE a preliminary self-assessment of their ‘state of preparedness’.
By 1 April 2016 we will be required to submit detailed material to ‘show they have established appropriate arrangements to implement the Prevent duty’.
Phase 2: ongoing monitoring
By 1 December 2016 we will be required to produce an annual report.
The Prevent Working Group is currently working on an initial self-assessment, including a log of risks and issues. The University is determined to act in proportion to risk whilst at the same time ensuring that it meets its obligations under the Prevent duty.
Reporting concerns under Prevent
If you have concerns that a University student is being drawn into terrorism, contact Tracy Cullis, Director of Student Services (firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 24 7765 8336).
If you have concerns that a University staff member is being drawn into terrorism, contact Kate Quantrell Group Registrar and Secretary (email@example.com, +44 (0) 24 7765 8335).
If you have a query about the University’s implementation of the Prevent duty, contact Tracy Cullis, Director of Student Services (firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 24 7765 2039).