The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 requires all Universities to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This is known as the Prevent Duty.
There are two documents published by the Government which outline Universities’ obligations under the Prevent Duty.
The first of these is the general Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales and the second is a specific document: Prevent Duty Guidance: for higher education institutions in England and Wales.
The University is committed to providing support to all students and staff and it recognises that its duty to prevent anyone at risk from being drawn into terrorism is no different to safeguarding individuals or assisting anyone with any other type of welfare need.
The University does not seek to vilify or discriminate against any part of the University community and is careful to ensure that its approach is fair. An independent equality assessment undertaken last year indicated that the University’s Action plan to implement the Prevent Duty was not discriminatory and did not target specific groups or types of student.
The University’s main focus on Prevent is to emphasise the use of existing University processes providing welfare, support and advice to students or staff. This is not about identifying ‘extremism’ but identifying general behaviour changes that may indicate individuals require many different types of further support.
Channel is a multi-agency process which ensures vulnerable people of any faith, 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 related terrorist related activity a referral to Channel results in appropriate safeguards and support to be put in place to prevent a person from being drawn into terrorism.
Salford Channel is headed up by the Council Safeguarding Lead. Other members of Channel include social services, NHS, police and education providers.
If there is sufficient evidence of concerns that a student or staff member may be at risk of being radicalised, the University (and not individual students or members) has a legal duty to refer that individual to Channel. The University’s Prevent Task Group would consider information from student or staff welfare concerns before making a decision to refer a person to Channel.
Participation in the Channel process is voluntary, it can’t be forced on an individual and student or staff welfare concerns will always be considered before making a decision to refer a person to Channel.
The Prevent Duty imposes a number of other requirements on the University. Most of these were already in place before the Prevent Duty came into force. We must:
Implementation of the Prevent Duty is overseen by the University Secretary who reports on a regular basis to University senior management and to Council. The University also ensures that all members of senior management is aware of the requirements of the Prevent Duty and has also provided briefings to SU sabbatical officers and staff.
The University Secretary chairs a Task Group which staff from Legal & Governance, Security, and Student Experience and Support also attend to coordinate the University’s approach. The University has invited the Students’ Union President to attend these meetings. The Task Group also considers any potential referral to Channel, fully considering all circumstances and following advice from Wellbeing or HR.
A Prevent Consultation Group was launched in the summer of 2016 with attendees from all parts of the University as well as the Students Union. This Group will meet twice a year to consider and discuss the University’s approach to Prevent.
Implementation of the Prevent Duty in the HE sector is monitored by HEFCE. Each Higher Education Institution must provide an annual report to HEFCE by 1 December each year stating what it has done over the previous year to ensure that the duty is implemented. Following assessment of this report HEFCE writes back to the University to advise that in its opinion, the University does or does not have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism.
After the submission of its first full annual report, the University of Salford was deemed by HEFCE to have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism.
HEFCE has used some of the University’s Prevent work as an example of Good Practice in their latest report on the Prevent Duty: Implementation of the Prevent duty in the higher education sector in England: 2015-16. HEFCE has also asked the University to act as a sector spokesperson on the Duty.
For more information on HEFCE’s work please refer to their webpages: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/reg/prevent/