The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 means the University must “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” (Section 26). We must also “have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech" and "to the importance of academic freedom” (Section 31). Under Section 29, we must "have regard to any such guidance in carrying out that duty.”
The University is complying with this duty in all its aspects, which in practice means striking a fine balance between concerns around extremism and concerns around censorship. The work in promoting British values and the University's values, and its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy, all aim to positively address this challenge. It covers many areas of activity, including pastoral support for students, staff training, information sharing and assessing speakers for Students' Union Society events.
In September 2015 the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE) took on responsibility for the monitoring of the implementation of the Prevent Duty in higher education.
Further information on HEFCE’s new Prevent Duty Monitoring Framework. The University is currently engaging with HEFCE to ensure responsibilities are met under the duty.
The University’s current policies and procedures are being reviewed to ensure proportionate and appropriate responses are in place to address the Prevent requirements.
Referral of students under the prevent duty
Statutory guidance issued to universities under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTSA) states the expectation for there to be sufficient pastoral care and chaplaincy support available for all students. Students can be signposted or encouraged to contact the Interfaith Team. The Interfaith Team may also identify individuals likely to need such support and engage with them. The below boxed section aims to clarify the simple process to follow for all staff in handling relevant concerns if they arise.
In addition to the Prevent Duty, the CTSA puts Channel, the Government programme for supporting people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, onto a statutory basis. Universities are required to act in co-operation with a Channel panel and police, in assessment and support of identified individuals, that the relevant local authority considers appropriate, whether generally or in the case of a particular identified individual. This requirement extends as far as is compatible with legal responsibilities in respect of a university's functions, and also as a component of its wider safeguarding remit.
Process to follow for all staff
If you are aware of a student acting strangely or differently and you are not comfortable with that, in the sense that it might be extremism-related, contact: [email protected]
This mailbox is confidential but please be mindful of procedures in sending potentially sensitive personal data. Also, please state any preference in whether or not to be informed of progress, although this option may only be possible if you have provided information which does not need to be verified.
Although the above process presents a unified approach, it constitutes neither a single point of contact nor a ‘one stop shop’ to which extremism-related referrals must be made. The following Q&As attempt to address common contextual issues arising from this process.
Will my disclosure about a student mean I am informing on him/her to the security services?
Not necessarily. We understand it may be difficult to decide on taking action given the sensitivity of these kinds of concern. There are stories of lives being changed comparable to having a criminal conviction, and for example being banned from travel or detained at airports. We aim to keep ownership of our student concerns, and we will endeavour to do so whenever resources and capability permit.
Will my disclosure also mean my name will be added to their list, or could the student find out what I did?
No. We keep your identity confidential, and anonymise all personal information whenever possible. However a legal gateway exists, for example for the purpose of preventing crime. We must comply with such exemption but only when formally requested.
What generally happens to the students referred in this way?
There are a number of options depending on the particular case. The main objective from the University perspective is that students can successfully complete their studies. So with mitigating risk of non-completion in mind, the best option involves the student directly to address any concerning behaviours, with the offer of appropriate support being accepted, and progress checked for effectiveness of this approach. On the other hand, an individual may be linked to wider activities, when informed consent in referral is not possible, in balancing the risk of compromising those links. All interventions will be by evaluated contact – fully assessed, deemed necessary and proportionate.
Whose responsibility is it to authorise an intervention?
In the assessment of each case where evidence suggests some co-ordinated action will be required, this is put forward to the ‘Students of Concern’ Group who meet on average fortnightly. If action taken does not prove successful, the situation otherwise deteriorates somehow, or the seriousness would in the first instance indicate a higher-level response, then the authorisation of senior management members of the Referred Activities Committee is applicable.