Liz Hodgman looks at the Prevent Duty and what it really means for early years providers.

I manage a group of children’s centres within a very diverse community in an area of high deprivation and recently completed a managers’ training module on the Prevent Duty. It highlighted my responsibilities under the duty to ensure that the staff, volunteers and our governors had all undertaken Prevent Duty training, that they understood the risk of radicalisation and would be able to implement the duty effectively, ie know how to refer someone who was vulnerable or at risk.

We started our training by defining what extremism is. Extremism is defined in law as:

vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas. (From the Counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015).

We also learned a little about the UK’s Counter Terrorism Strategy, CONTEST. This covers four areas.

  • Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks.

  • Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

  • Protect: to strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack.

  • Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.

Our role within early years provisions is to be aware of our families being drawn into possible terrorism and to seek support for them.

There isn’t a typical type of person who might be drawn into terrorism; people can be of any age, from any religion or background. However, there are situations that may make a person vulnerable.

  • Being rejected by peer, faith or social group/family.

  • Pressure from persons linked to extremism.

  • Victim or witness to race or religious hate crime.

  • Conflict with family over religious beliefs/lifestyle/politics.

  • Identity confusion.

  • Recent religious conversion.

  • Under-achievement, lack of self-esteem or identity.

  • May possess literature related to extreme views.

  • Experience of poverty, disadvantage or social exclusion.

  • Extremist influences.

  • A series of traumatic events global, national or personal.

There are different forms of extremism that we might come across within our communities and it is important to be aware of them, not just to focus on the major groups reported in the media. Examples of these forms are:

  • white supremacists

  • Nazi parties

  • anti-Semitism

  • Holocaust denial

  • race and religious hatred

  • animal rights extremism

  • far right extremism

  • religious extremism

  • nationalist extremism

  • homophobia.

During our training session we looked in detail at British Values and how we used these within our provision on a daily basis. This will be explored further in another article, British Values, where we will also look at how we can evidence our work in this area to Ofsted.

As with safeguarding, it is rarely one incident that raises a concern. Normally there will be a series of comments or incidents that, when pieced together, build a worrying picture. Regular, documented supervision of the staff team, either on an individual or group basis, will help to identify families that are at risk.

Once we have identified a family where we have concerns we need to report this as we would do any safeguarding concern. This may result in a referral to the local Channel panel.

Channel is an early intervention multi-agency process designed to safeguard vulnerable people from being drawn into violent extremist or terrorist behaviour. Channel works in a similar way to existing safeguarding partnerships aimed at protecting vulnerable people. Each local authority will have its own panel, chaired by a council officer.

If the person is thought to be at risk and suitable for the programme, they are normally contacted by the local police and a support package is put in place for them. This will be reviewed and closed when required. The process is confidential and will not impact on the person’s future employability. it will not, for example, appear on a DBS check as no crime has been committed.

Following our staff training session we developed a risk assessment/action plan for the centres around the Prevent Duty. This includes staff training and induction, leadership responsibilities, communication, incident management and fundraising (ensuring you are not participating in raising funds for an extremist group).

In 2018, the Government withdrew Project Griffin which was a national counter terrorism awareness initiative for business to protect our cities and communities from the threat of terrorism.

It was replaced with Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) Awareness e-Learning training. This is free online training and is made up of the following modules:

  • Introduction to terrorism

  • Identifying security vulnerabilities

  • How to identify and respond to suspicious behaviour

  • How to identify and deal with a suspicious item

  • What to do in the event of a bomb threat

  • How to respond to a firearms or weapons attack

  • Summary and supporting materials.

Local authorities will also be able to provide training, Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP).

Actions

  • Download a copy of The Prevent Duty.

  • Ensure all staff and volunteers have undertaken Prevent training, either face-to-face or online, and feel confident in challenging extremist ideas.

  • Include the Prevent Duty within your safeguarding policy.

  • Develop a risk assessment/action plan for your provision.

  • Put up a poster in your staff room with contact details of the Prevent Officer for your LA and details of useful contact numbers including the Anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321.

  • Include Prevent information and training within the induction for all new staff and volunteers.

  • Encourage staff to complete the ACT Awareness e-Learning module (takes about 45 minutes).

Free online training

The Education and Training Foundation offers a range of Prevent courses aimed at different audiences, board members, practitioners, leaders, managers and others.

See also Channel General Awareness.

ACT Awareness e-Learning is available on the GOV.UK website.

Last reviewed 4 October 2019