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Resisting Radicalisation: A Critical Analysis of the UK Prevent Duty

Discussions on Policy

journal-for-deradicalization_blog-235x350Journal abstract

In response to the threat of terrorism and radicalisation, the UK government introduced the counterterrorism strategy CONTEST and its four strands ‘Prepare, Prevent, Protect, Pursue’. As one of these four strands, the ‘Prevent’ strategy dates back to 2003 and is tailored to avert radicalisation in its earliest stages. What stands out as particularly controversial is the statutory duty introduced in 2015 that requires ‘specified authorities’ to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” (Home Office, 2015a, s. 26). Based on a critical analysis of the so-called Prevent Duty in educational institutions (excluding higher education), I argue that it not only has the potential to undermine ‘inclusive’ safe spaces in schools but may also hold the danger of further alienating the British Muslim population. Certain terminology such as ‘safeguarding’ students who are ‘vulnerable’ to extremist ideas is misleading and conveniently inflated in order to legitimise the Prevent Duty and facilitate its smooth implementation. Largely based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, this in-depth analysis is best utilised in combination with empirical research on the impact of Prevent as conducted by Busher et al. (2017). However, the disproportionate targeting of British Muslims intertwined with the dual role of students as both at risk and, simultaneously, a risk, reveals that the Prevent Duty in educational institutions is deeply flawed in its implementation and has significant potential to alienate and radicalise the British Muslim population.

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