As part of the Government’s strategy to reduce terrorism in the UK, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a range of measures with the aim of countering the threat of radicalisation and the risk of people being drawn into terrorism. Public bodies, including higher education institutions (HEIs), are now subject to the statutory Prevent Duty. This means that we, along with other universities, are required by law to demonstrate that we have arrangements in place and pay due regard to the need to safeguard people in our community from being drawn into terrorism.
Prevent at Warwick
We are committed to ensuring a balance between the obligations of the Prevent Duty and our wider obligations to Freedom of Speech, Academic Freedom and Equality. We will address the requirements of the duty responsibly and proportionately as part of our extensive wellbeing and safeguarding provision. These pages provide further information on the requirements of The Prevent Duty and how we as an institution are meeting them.
Prevent in context
The decision to introduce the Prevent Duty in Higher Education has been a controversial one. With many expressing concerns about the nature of the duty and its potential negative consequences.
“The Prevent duty requires the University to conduct itself in ways to seek to prevent anyone in our community or on our campus preparing, supporting or encouraging others into acts of terrorism. That aim, surely, is one around which we can have consensus. However where that consensus breaks down is over the means by which this is to be operationalised. Some fear that it may make universities into agents of surveillance; some suggest that the approach could be, in practice, Islamophobic. These are incredibly important and intense issues… As a Vice-Chancellor, indeed as the head of a major organisation, I'm not doing this through choice or desire and it is not because we are part of the government machinery. I need to ensure that Prevent is implemented because it is a statutory duty; it is the law”
Stuart Croft Vice Chancellor
These fears are reflected in the responses of both the UCU and NUS.
"The government's approach is a dangerous strategy. It risks silencing those who are most vulnerable, leaving them no space in which to express their opinions or be challenged safely. Due to the Islamophobic narrative surrounding 'extremism', it also risks certain communities being targeted unfairly ... We do not believe that draconian crackdowns on the rights to debate controversial issues will achieve the ends the government says it seeks ... We call on the government to immediately review the legislation to ensure that, for this and future generations, the duties do not have the negative effect that we fear. “
University and College Union
“The Prevent duty is proving counterproductive by alienating certain communities and has the potential to create discrimination based on their ethnicity, faith or culture. Black and Muslim students are subjected to racial profiling and state-sponsored islamophobia, which has no place in our universities and colleges.”
National Union of Students