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INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EXPO

Ahead of the International Security Expo, Counter Terror Business talks to Erika Brady, from the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews, on the Prevent scheme, monitoring terrorism and understanding extremism

ISE: LESSONS ON THE PREVENT DUTY T he International Security Expo is taking place on 28-29 November at Olympia London. Erika Brady will be speaking in the Education Security Conference, providing an analysis of the Prevent Duty in St Andrews and Oxford.

CTB: HOW IS PREVENT CURRENTLY  EMBEDDED IN UK UNIVERSITIES?  Erika Brady (EB): There has been a significant amount of controversy around Prevent, much of which precedes the implementation of the Prevent Duty in 2015. The Prevent Duty itself made it a statutory requirement for various public bodies to contribute to the effort of preventing the radicalisation of vulnerable individuals. The bodies affected by the Duty include educational institutions of all levels. To be honest, if we remove the emotive debate around Prevent, I think most people would not have a fundamental problem with stopping people from becoming terrorists. The problem is in how Prevent, as a counterradicalisation strategy, was developed and implemented. My research has indicated that there has been a clear move by university leadership to abide by the legal requirement and policies have been written and published. However, there is significant variation on how the Prevent Duty and its policies are understood and received by various

affected groups. There are also challenges of implementation, and significant push back has been seen from student bodies across the country, much of which has been led by the National Union of Students (NUS) who have organised the opposition to the legislation. In particular, the NUS celebrated the outcome of a High Court ruling in July 2017 that said that universities did not have to follow Prevent Duty guidance which had been issued by the government to assist universities in the implementation of the Duty. The ruling was based primarily on the clarity of Prevent itself as opposed to the guidance presented to assist in its implementation. So, there is some legal precedent that the Prevent Duty was ill-conceived and has been open to criticism. While the University of St Andrews has a robust policy in place, I was unaware of any communications in this regard. So, when I looked into it in more detail, I found that, even as recently as August, staff had been informed of Prevent training which was taking place. So, it is in effect, but never seems to be a big talking point among students, that I am aware of at least. I think it is therefore important to look at it in a little more depth and see if more can be learned about the changes, or lack thereof, over time. My main issue with the reporting on this, both from media and student bodies, is that it appears to me to be a roll-on effect from E

ISSUE 36 | COUNTER TERROR BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Counter Terror Business 36  

Delivering Key Strategies To Combat Terrorism

Counter Terror Business 36  

Delivering Key Strategies To Combat Terrorism