One of the biggest threats faced by Western nations in the twenty first century is terrorism. However, while previous terrorist attacks were committed by foreign nationals, more recent terrorist atrocities have been committed by a state’s own radicalised nationals for a global cause. This was seen in the London Bombings in 2005 where 52 individuals were killed, the 2011 Norway Attacks where 77 individuals were slaughtered, bombings in Ankara and Suruç in 2015 in which 208 people were killed and the attacks in Paris and Brussels that left 165 dead. Alongside the domestic threat of terrorism, citizens of Western nations have headed overseas to Iraq and Syria to fight for so-called Islamic State.
To respond to these threats, governments around the world have introduced measures to prevent radicalisation occurring and, where it has already occurred, to de-radicalise individuals. The United Kingdom’s approach is known as ‘Prevent’. Prevent is one of four pillars of the UK’s response to terrorism known as CONTEST. Prevent was introduced as part of CONTEST in 2003 and was subsequently revamped in 2006, 2009 and 2011. In 2015, the Conservative Government believing more needed to be done to tackle radicalisation introduced section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 which creates a general duty that requires that: ‘A specified authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. This piece critically discusses aspects of the duty.