Government enforces Prevent guidance for UK’s higher and further education institutions

Universities and colleges across the country are now legally required to take steps designed to prevent their students from being drawn into terrorism

Universities and colleges across the country are now legally required to take steps designed to prevent their students from being drawn into terrorism

From Friday 18 September 2015, universities and colleges across the country are legally required to take steps aimed at preventing their students from being drawn into terrorism.

Introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, the Prevent duty came into effect for key bodies including schools, healthcare organisations and the police service on 1 July. The duty has now commenced for higher and further education institutions after guidance specifically addressing the issue of extremist speakers was approved by Parliament on Thursday 17 September.

Speaking about this latest development in the fight against the terror threat, security minister John Hayes said: “We have seen all too starkly and tragically the dangers of radicalisation and the devastating impact it can have on individuals, families and communities. The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism.”

Hayes went on to comment: “There is absolutely no place for hate preachers at British colleges and universities and there is no place for those who excuse, justify or try to legitimise terrorism in British society. Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation is a job for all of us.”

The new guidance makes clear that extremist speakers must not go unchallenged and ensures colleges and universities have proper risk assessment processes in place for their speakers.

Security minister John Hayes

Security minister John Hayes

The Government’s guidance also sets out that institutions must ensure that they have appropriate IT policies, staff training and student welfare programmes in place to recognise and respond to signs of radicalisation.

This latest move from the Home Office comes as young people continue to make up a disproportionately high number of those arrested in the UK for terrorist-related offences and, indeed, of those travelling to join terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq.

In March this year, Parliament approved guidance issued under Section 29 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 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 another for specified authorities in Scotland. These two documents were revised in July, removing the chapters on further and higher education institutions. This is because four new pieces of stand-alone, sector-specific guidance for these institutions were issued.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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