The Prevent Duty
What is the Prevent Duty?
The Prevent Duty is part of the Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy, CONTEST. Under the Prevent Duty, “specified authorities” are required to have a “due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism”. It applies to higher education institutions, local authorities, schools, further education institutions, the health sector, prisons and probation, and the police.
The Office for Students regulates HEI compliance with the Prevent Duty and requires universities to have specific policies and procedures in place. The most recent guidance can be found here.
By working with a wide range of partners, those implementing the Duty aim to safeguard and support vulnerable people to stop them being drawn into terrorism or supporting terrorism through early intervention. It also enables those already engaged in terrorism to disengage and rehabilitate. Prevent occupies the non-criminal space of CONTEST and sits separately from the rest of the CONTEST strategy. Individuals who are referred through the Duty can choose to participate in the CHANNEL programme.
CHANNEL is a voluntary, confidential, multi-agency programme that seeks to ensure vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background can receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal, terrorist-related activity.
The King's Approach
Our approach to having a due regard to the Prevent Duty is primarily one of safeguarding the welfare of our students, staff and King’s community. The university takes a proactive, proportionate and risk-based approach to the Prevent Duty, which covers welfare, events, training and partnerships. We also ensure that the Duty is balanced against our fundamental commitment to academic freedom, freedom of expression and other key legislations, such as, the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.
Implementation of the Prevent Duty is coordinated by the Academic Regulation, Policy & Compliance team and reviewed by the Safeguarding Oversight and Steering Groups. The Prevent Lead for the university is the Director of Students & Education. Student representatives are members of the Safeguarding Oversight Group and the Freedom of Expression Advisory Group. We also regularly engage with external partners, such as, Local Authorities and the Department for Education.
The university has a number of policies and procedures that students and/or agree to comply with when they commence their studies or begin employment at King’s. These aim to create an environment that permits freedom of speech and expression whilst respecting the rights of others.The following documents, policies and procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure they align with the Office for Students guidance on the Prevent Duty:
We have a long history of ensuring that free and open debate can take place from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance, and we believe that exposure to difference, including extreme and controversial views, makes debates richer and stimulates reflection. The university will always seek to allow external speaker events to go ahead, providing they are within the law and the appropriate procedures are followed.
Any event involving an external speaker is risk assessed and we have robust procedures to ensure the Room Bookings: External Speaker Policy is followed. The policy does not just cover events linked to the Prevent Duty it also alerts relevant colleagues that an event is taking place which may need additional support or resource. If the risk assessment highlights any potential risks to the safety of our students or staff, the Freedom of Expression Standing Advisory Group may propose additional conditions to be put in place, such as, an impartial chair; panel discussion rather than keynote speaker; Safe Space Marshalls; or the attendance of senior university representatives.
Any concerns about a student, whatever their nature, go through the Student of Concern Procedure.This Procedure, formally Student at Risk, has been in place for some time and is well publicised. For further information, please consult the KCL intranet webpages on Safeguarding and the Student of Concern Procedure.
If you have a concern about a staff member, visitor to campus, or applicant, please consult the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures and arrange an informal conversation with the appropriate Lead Safeguarding Officer (found in the Procedures) in the first instance. They will be able to advise on the appropriate course of action
Every year, key members of staff receive Prevent Duty training as part of our wider Safeguarding training. This could either be in the form of face-to-face discussions and case study work or through our e-module, which is being piloted to Personal Tutors and Student Support & Wellbeing Services staff from December 2019.
Training includes what is the Prevent Duty and what does this mean for the university; what to do when they are concerned for a student or staff member’s welfare, for any reason, and what procedures to follow to raise any concerns.
The Duty does not ask us to ‘spy’ on students or to monitor their activity or behaviour on campus or online. Students at King’s are required to abide by the IT Acceptable Use policy; accessing and distributing extremist material would be considered as unacceptable use.
Research into security sensitive or restricted material is an important part of academic freedom and the university wants to ensure that any researcher undertaking this activity is supported appropriately. Please contact the Research Governance Office for further advice and support.
If you have any queries, require further information on the Prevent Duty and how it is implemented at King’s, or want to know more about training opportunities, please contact the Academic Regulations, Policy and Compliance team: firstname.lastname@example.org.