Section 26 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on certain “specified authorities” which includes local authorities, schools, universities, health services, police, prisons and probation to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The United Kingdom has a long-term plan for countering both international and domestic terrorism, known as the Contest Strategy, which is divided into 4 strands:
- Pursue: is about detecting and disrupting threats of terrorism. It is targeted at those who have committed or who are planning to commit a crime
- Protect: is concerned with strengthening the country’s infrastructure from an attack including reducing the vulnerability of the transport network and improving security for crowded places
- Prepare: focuses on areas of the infrastructure where an attack cannot be stopped and the aim is to reduce the impact of an attack by preparing to respond effectively
- Prevent: is an early intervention process and operates in the “pre-criminal space” It aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism
Shropshire’s PREVENT aim and objectives
In respect of terrorism, Shropshire is assessed to be a low risk area, but it is important not to be complacent. There is a particular concern that vulnerable people may be at risk of radicalisation through the influence of others or via the internet, including ideas and issues around their identity. A proportionate response needs to be taken to mitigate any threat, risk or harm posed to vulnerable adults, children and communities from extremist groups. This includes recognising CONTEST work including ‘the Prevent duty’ is inextricably linked to other main safeguarding issues such as vulnerability and Hate Crime. Together we need to promote strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, schools and within communities.
The practical application of PREVENT in Shropshire
In order to raise awareness of PREVENT beyond the specific duties of the specified authorities it is important that there is a ‘joined up’ and multi-agency approach to Prevent in Shropshire. Therefore, multi-agency partnership working focuses on the following:
- Provide reassurance that at a county level there are effective mechanisms in place to ensure Shropshire is meeting its Prevent Duty
- Share good practice on staff training and workforce development
- Have a co-ordinated approach to the support available in the county
- Ensure effective communication and raise awareness of the Duty and the risks in Shropshire
- Oversee the work of the Channel Panel and identify areas of learning
- Respond to the risks identified in the local counter terrorism profile
- Support community cohesion activities aimed at building resilience, which will assist in preventing radicalisation and extremism
Vulnerable people, including children, young people and vulnerable adults, can be exploited by people who seek to involve them in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism.
There is a multi-agency approach, called ‘Channel’, which looks at referrals of people at risk of being drawn into terrorism and decides whether, or not, action needs to be taken. This approach works alongside the safeguarding partnerships to protect people at risk from radicalisation.
Where people holding extremist views appear to be moving towards terrorism, they clearly become relevant to Channel multiagency boards. They are likely to have been identified as holding extreme yet legitimate ideas, but have been assessed as being at risk of moving from that position into one of criminality. It should be stressed that, at this stage, the person has not committed any offense.
Channel programmes are prioritised around areas and places of higher risk, defined as those where terrorist groups and their sympathisers have been most active. However, Channel interventions can take place anywhere, regardless of whether or not that place has been designated as a priority area. Channel is completely confidential and open. The person at risk can decline to take part in any intervention.