The Uk's Anti-Radicalisation Prevent Duty

By Barrett, David | Nottingham Law Journal, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

The Uk's Anti-Radicalisation Prevent Duty


Barrett, David, Nottingham Law Journal


INTRODUCTION

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 Suruc 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. (1) Prevent was introduced as part of CONTEST in 2003 and was subsequently revamped in 2006, 2009 and 2011. (2) 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. (3)

SPECIFIED AUTHORITIES

Specified authorities are listed in Schedule 6 Part 1 and include: local government; (4) criminal justice bodies (such as prisons); (5) education bodies (which includes nurseries, schools and universities); (6) health and social care bodies; (7) and the police. (8) The Secretary of State has the power to extend the list of authorities subject to the duty in certain circumstances. (9) These bodies are subject to the duty as it is thought that they are most likely to notice if individuals are becoming radicalised as they have frequent and regular contact with large sections of the public.

However, this is not true of all authorities specified. For example, individuals may rarely visit hospitals and if they do, the majority of patients are not frequent or regular users. In contrast, GPs, which members of the public are more likely to have contact with, are excluded from the duty. Alongside GPs, there are a wide variety of third sector bodies that are not subject to the duty (e.g. charities, youth groups, religious organisations). Although it is understandable that the duty was not extended to non-public bodies, it is actually these excluded bodies who are likely to prove more effective than the specified authorities at noticing signs of radicalisation and taking action to de-radicalise them. This is because many of the specified authorities are formal settings and so individuals who are becoming more extreme are liable to take care to hide their radical views. In contrast, in more relaxed settings (such as youth groups etc) individuals are more likely to be themselves and hence more openly exhibit signs of radicalisation. Although, non-specified authorities are encouraged to work with public bodies to tackle radicalisation, they are not required to do so, which potentially limits the effectiveness of the Prevent duty.

Furthermore, the Prevent duty requires specified authorities to focus upon the individual causes of radicalisation (such as feelings of alienation or humiliation, identity problems or interaction with similar individuals). It however, ignores societal factors that cause radicalisation (e.g. a lack of socio-economic opportunities). (10) Thus, white pupils receiving free school meals (who are most likely to grow up to support far right organisations) are low achievers at school (72% fail to obtain 5 A*-C grades at GCSE) and 50% of Muslims currently live in poverty (cf 18% of society as a whole). …

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