Prevent programme strengthened a year on from independent review

A year on from the Independent Review of Prevent, the Government has already implemented the “vast majority” of recommendations, according to a report published on Tuesday (February 20).

Feb 20, 2024
By Paul Jacques
James Cleverly

Thirty of the 34 recommendations made by Independent Reviewer William Shawcross have already been delivered and progress has been made against each of the remaining recommendations, the report says.

Home Secretary James Cleverley said: “Delivering the recommendations of the Independent Review of Prevent has been critical to ensuring a Prevent programme that is fit for purpose and agile enough to meet the threats we face today.

“The conflict in Israel and Gaza has brought the importance of Prevent into sharp focus. Prevent is a key part of our plan to tackle radicalisation and I am confident that it is more capable than ever at meeting that challenge.”

Among the recommendations implemented since the independent review is new Prevent duty guidance that came into effect in England and Wales on December 31, 2023, which assists statutory partners to understand how to comply with the duty and strengthen their Prevent delivery

New Channel duty guidance was also published on October 9 last year that ensures the multi-agency support provided to those susceptible to radicalisation is robust, effective and consistent.

In addition there are now strengthened due diligence checks on civil society organisations to ensure that Prevent does not work with or fund those who legitimise or support terrorism;

Research to assess the reviewer’s concerns about the prevalence of anti-semitism in Channel cases has bolstered the Governmnt’s approach to tackling extremist narratives, and new intervention providers specialising in anti-semitism have been hired

The Government says delivery of the programme has now moved from a national to a regional model to ensure it remains “dynamic to the threat of radicalisation facing this country”. More than 170 local authorities in England and Wales are now supported by an expert Prevent adviser to maximise delivery.

In the 12 months since the publication of the independent review, the Home Office says it has has built on the recommendations made by leading a cross-government change programme, which directs activity to where it will have the most impact tackling radicalisation and dangerous ideologies.

It added: “Effective partnership and multi-agency working is central to the delivery of Prevent. The Government, operational partners and local authorities have worked closely together to implement the recommendations of the review.”

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said: “Protecting the British public isn’t just about waiting for the next threat, we must confront the ideas that drive radicalisation and violence. Prevent is key to our defence.

“This past year we’ve brought Prevent back to its core mission – tackling the ideological causes of terrorism.

“The conflict in the Middle East has demonstrated why that mission has never been more important. We will continue to adapt our approach to keep pace with the evolving threat.”

To ensure “rigorous, consistent and proportionate” decision-making on all referrals to the programme, the Hom Office said a new Prevent assessment framework has been implemented so that only those presenting a counter-terrorism risk are supported.

A new security threat check has also been implemented across Prevent delivery to ensure that all activity is guided by the current threat picture.

“The independent review placed a strong emphasis on enhancing training and a refreshed training package has been developed alongside partners, including the Commission for Countering Extremism, Department for Education, Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities,” said the Home Office.

“This training places an increased focus on extremist ideologies so that frontline professionals can confidently identify those at risk and refer them to Prevent when support is required.

“The overhaul of the Prevent programme has been underpinned by the guiding principles of the independent review to bring Prevent back to its core mission of stopping people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, increasing understanding of extremist ideology, enhancing approach to delivery, and improving transparency and oversight.”

In the coming weeks, the Home Office confirmed a new standards and compliance unit will be operationalised by the Commission for Countering Extremism to create an independent oversight function. It will provide the public and those working on the programme with an avenue to report instances where Prevent may have fallen short of the expected high standards.

It said work will continue to ensure these changes are “firmly and consistently embedded” across government and the frontline professionals who deliver the programme in communities.

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