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The Prevent Duty

Universities became subject to the Prevent duty in September 2015, when HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) was given responsibility for assessing how they met the requirements under the duty. This responsibility has now passed to the new universities' regulator, the Office for Students (OfS).

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 created a statutory duty for specified public authorities to ‘have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. Prevent is one of four strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

The statutory Prevent Duty Guidance has been issued to all 'specified authorities', with additional Guidance for Universities highlighting key areas of attention:

  • External speakers
  • Partnerships with other local organisations engaged with Prevent
  • Risk assessment and action plan
  • Staff training
  • Welfare and pastoral care/chaplaincy support
  • IT policies
  • Students' Union and societies

How do these changes affect UAL?

The Home Office has advised that it does not intend the Prevent duty to place onerous new burdens on Higher Education Institutions but instead is to be implemented in a proportionate and risk-based way, as was proposed in the sector response to the consultation on the Counter-Terrorism Bill draft statutory guidance.

The guidance issued states that the Prevent duty does not confer new functions on any specified authority. The term 'due regard' means that, in the words of the guidance, specified authorities should place an appropriate amount of weight on the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism when they consider all the other factors relevant to how they carry out their functions.

Compliance with the duty

The broad requirement of the Home Office guidance is to implement the Prevent duty to help prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

In response to this, we have developed the UAL Prevent Policy (PDF 124.5KB)  which was approved by the University's Executive Board on 20 April 2016. This sets out how we will address our legal obligations.

Our aim is to implement the duty in a sensible, proportionate way, whilst undertaking to meet our legal obligations under the Act; do what we can to safeguard anyone who is at risk of being drawn into violent extremism and terrorism; avoid stigmatising any particular group and reassure them about our approach and to ensure that free speech and academic freedom are not violated.

The University’s current policies and procedures are continually being reviewed to ensure proportionate and appropriate responses are in place to address the Prevent requirements.

Safeguarding individuals

The main focus of the Prevent duty is on preventing people from being drawn into violent extremism. We are expected to raise awareness of the signs of radicalisation which might be a prelude to violent extremism. Our approach has been to revise our safeguarding policy, which is aimed at protecting individuals. The Prevent policy also makes it clear to staff what they should do if they have concerns about an individual.

Events and speakers

While we are required to put in place policies for the management of events on campus, the Act also insists that we ‘ensure freedom of speech’. Staff, particularly those who arrange events, should familiarise themselves with the UAL External Speakers and Events Policy, including annexes (PDF 140KB)

Use of the Internet and IT network

The IT Network and Acceptable Use policy sets out expectations on reasonable use of IT facilities. We do not intend to block access to sites which are legal.