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Governance and Legal Services

The Prevent Duty

What is 'Prevent'?

Prevent is part of the UK Government’s Counter Terrorism strategy. It requires certain sectors to put in place procedures for preventing people being drawn into terrorism and for flagging concerns about anyone who they fear may be, or has been, drawn into terrorism. It applies to local authorities, schools, higher and further education institutions, the health sector, prisons and probation and the police.

In September 2015 the Prevent Duty Guidance was issued to higher education institutions which places certain statutory obligations on us to demonstrate what is being done in this area. The Guidance can be read and downloaded from the government's website.

What has King's done to respond to the Prevent Duty?

We have revised our procedures around external speakers at events in order to demonstrate that we know who is coming to our campuses and are happy that they are not endangering the safety of our students and staff.

We will also be training staff on what it means, and doesn’t mean, for them in carrying out their duties. This training will be focused on student wellbeing and support and how we can reach out to those in need.

Prevent has been a key issue for discussion among students, and it has been raised at open fora with The Principal as well as in closer meetings with KCLSU and student societies. While we know KCLSU has a policy of non-compliance with the Duty we are committed to maintaining a dialogue with students about it.

Understand more about the university's response to Prevent by reading the questions and answers below.

 

Will student events be stopped from happening now?

Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception.

We have robust procedures in place to check the appropriateness of events and speakers hosted on campus and aim to balance our legal duty to uphold freedom of speech within the law with our duties under the Prevent legislation and wider legal framework.

If our review process highlights any potential risks, we put additional conditions in place before permitting the event to proceed. These conditions include recording the speeches to ensure that the events take place within the law, and having senior representatives of the university and the Students’ Union, including safe space marshals, in attendance.  We also want to support and help those responsible for chairing or organising such events to ensure that it all goes well and safely.

Our aim is to enable events to go ahead if at all possible. Only if we couldn’t mitigate against an identified risk would we consider not allowing an event to proceed. 

Are students’ behaviours now being monitored?
Are staff being trained to monitor students?

No. The Duty does not ask us to ‘spy’ on students or to monitor their activity or behaviour on campus or online. Staff may look out for students as they always have, from a welfare point of view, but no-one is being asked to keep records of students’ behaviours. Some staff will be given a training session that covers our responsibilities under Prevent, but that session will be focussed on student wellbeing and what to do if they are concerned, not about how to monitor students.  We do not monitor lists of members of student societies nor do we provide these to external bodies or authorities.

Does this mean students can’t express their feelings
or challenge opinions in the classroom?

Absolutely not. Universities are places where freedom of expression is encouraged and debates flourish. We know that part of the journey students go on while studying in higher education involves exploring politics, ideas and beliefs and key issues of religion, ethics and philosophy and this is a positive thing. King’s staff are not going to report students for challenging the status quo, questioning a text or proposing an alternative view, unless they encourage violence or terrorist acts in the process.

What do I do if I see something concerning that I think
would be covered under the Prevent Duty?

You should report any concerns you have about a student via the Students at Risk procedure. This procedure is to be used for any risk you are concerned about, so if it turns out to be a welfare or mental health issue, for example, it will be passed to the right people in King’s to deal with and respond. Do not be scared to register a concern about a student or their welfare: it will be looked at in the first instance only by trained King’s Student Services staff.  It will only be referred on to external agencies if there is clear evidence of a concern relating to terrorism and the decision to refer is ratified by The Principal.

How can I complain if I feel marginalised or harassed
as a result of the Prevent Duty?

If you feel you have been a victim of racism or harassment in any form, you should report it using the dedicated online form. Even if you have experienced the harassment off campus, we want to support you in dealing with it so please let us know.

You can also talk to someone about your experiences by visiting Counselling or the Chaplaincy. You can contact the Counselling service on 020 7848 7017 or email them at counselling@kcl.ac.uk.

The Chaplains are available to have an informal discussion with you if you wish to, regardless of faith. Contact details for all campus chaplains are available on the chaplaincy website.

The KCLSU Advice Service is also available for all students of King’s, details can be found at http://www.kclsu.org/advice/.

If you have any concerns about the way in which King’s is handling events or external speakers, or any other aspect of the Prevent Duty, please contact Levi Pay, Director of Student Support & Wellbeing Services: levi.pay@kcl.ac.uk

 

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