Prevent is the name given to the strand of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 that applies to a variety of public sector bodies including schools, Further Education and Higher Education. Information on the Act itself can be found here.
In terms of what this means for universities, their students and their staff, the intention of the legislation is to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. The Government has through this legislation imposed a series of duties on universities. Universities are being monitored on their implementation and commitment to the Prevent agenda by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Universities have to ensure that freedom of speech and academic freedom are protected within the context of current legislation. Universities must also ensure that there is sufficient and appropriate pastoral care available on campus, through services such as our Multi-faith Chaplaincy service based at the Martin Luther King Multi Faith Centre and our Counselling services, as well as Programme Directors and Personal Tutors.
Aston University has formed a Prevent Steering Group which includes representation from Aston Students’ Union and is chaired by a member of the University Executive. The University has taken the approach that, where possible, the Prevent duties will form part of the safeguarding procedures we already have in place to protect all students and staff.
The University is required to have policies and procedures to ensure that external speakers are not allowed a platform on campus to air fundamentalist views that may encourage vulnerable people to follow an extremist path. There are requirements on the University to ensure that its computer networks are not used for distributing extremist material that might lead someone into terrorism. Aston University has updated its existing policies to ensure that we are meeting these obligations, while still maintaining its fundamental objectives for free speech.
Universities are being asked to assure the Government that they have effective controls in place to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Universities are expected to have clear methods of communication where students or staff can raise any concerns about another student/member of staff who they believe are being drawn into terrorism. This includes the creation of a Channel Panel, chaired by a senior member of University staff, who will be the conduit to refer students or staff where appropriate, very importantly, only with the student or member of staff’s consent to the Government’s Channel Programme.
The University has a confidential email account where students or staff can alert us to concerns about the wellbeing of another student/member of staff. Issues can be raised about mental health issues, self-harming, suicidal thoughts and/or being drawn into terrorism for example. This list is not exhaustive. All messages will be dealt with in confidence and in line with the University’s Safeguarding Policy. Malicious/mischievous use of this email address will be treated as a disciplinary matter. The email address can be found here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, this email address must not be used in emergency situations where there is imminent danger to person/others. In emergency situations please contact Aston Security on the 24 hour emergency phoneline:
- Extension 2222 (internal)
- 0121 359 2922 (external)