On February 8, 2023, the British government published its response to an independent review into the Prevent program, which the review considers “a crucial pillar of the [United Kingdom’s] counter-terrorism architecture” that works to safeguard vulnerable individuals from being radicalized and drawn into terrorism. The government response accepted all 34 recommendations of the review, which include:
- Working with government partners to disrupt radicalizers and extremists.
- Introducing a security-threat check to provide a proportionate and consistent approach to the terrorist threat presented.
- Overhauling Prevent training and operational guidance.
- Reforming the Prevent delivery model to improve the standard of delivery.
- Creating a single national delivery model for the Channel early intervention program.
- Evaluating the Channel program to remove any disparities in thresholds for Islamist or extreme right-wing ideologies.
- Strengthening oversight and decision-making of government-funded civil society organizations to ensure they challenge any extremist or terrorist ideology and not work with, engage with, or fund these groups.
- Increasing the understanding of anti-Semitism in the Channel program.
While the majority of the recommendations may be made through policy changes, one of them will require an amendment to section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Section 26 of this act places a general duty on specified authorities, including the police and health, education, and local authorities, to, in the course of exercising their functions, “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.” This duty is commonly referred to as the “Prevent Duty,” and the government has published statutory guidance for England and Wales and Scotland, under section 29 of the 2015 act, to help authorities comply with this duty.
The review determined that the Prevent Duty should be redefined to “tackl[e] extremist ideology as a terrorism driver” to not only safeguard vulnerable individuals at risk from radicalization, but also include those who pose a terrorism threat of their own. The review recommended that the Prevent Duty in section 26 should be broadened to require authorities to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.” It further recommended that the statutory guidance be updated in line with these changes. The government accepted these recommendations and stated that it is committed to “revising the Prevent Duty legislation to specify the need to prevent people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism” and that this will also be reflected in the statutory guidance.
Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
March 10, 2023
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