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What is prevent duty?

What is Prevent Duty

In 2017/18, 7,318 individuals were referred to the Prevent Programme due to concerns that they were vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The Education sector accounted for 2,462 (33%) of the referrals and the police accounted for 2,364 (32%) of the referrals.

Prevent is a safeguarding duty. It’s part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. It means that schools and childcare providers have a part to play in helping to prevent children and young people from being drawn into extremism and terrorism.

Your Responsibilities

As an education professional, you have a responsibility to protect children from being drawn into radicalisation or terrorism as part of the wider safeguarding policies. The Prevent Duty will help you to: 

  • protect students from radicalising influences
  • protect children from extremist narratives
  • identify vulnerabilities or change in behaviour
  • know what to do if you are concerned about a student

There is not a one size fits all approach to dealing with Prevent Duty. Therefore, head teachers and Educational leaders have a responsibility to put in place robust procedures to protect students/children. These procedures should regularly be reviewed and evaluated to make sure that they are still effective. 

The protection against radicalisation and extremism should be viewed the same as protecting children from drugs, neglect or exploitation. 

What is 'radicalisation', 'extremism' and 'radicalisation'?


The government's Prevent Duty Guidance defines radicalisation as:

‘Radicalisation’ refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.

Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales - HM Government


The government's Prevent Duty Guidance defines extremism as:

‘Extremism’ is defined in the 2011 Prevent strategy as vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of
extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.

Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales - HM Government


The government's Prevent Duty Guidance defines terrorism as:

The current UK definition of ‘terrorism’ is given in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000). In summary this defines terrorism as an action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious damage to property; or seriously interferes or disrupts an electronic system. The use or threat must be designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made for the
purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales - HM Government

Below we have a snippet from our course detailing what extremism and terrorism are so that Educational Professionals are able to recognise them in children. 

Radicalisation amongst children 

  • Between 2001-2017 there were 125 people (4%) under the age of 18 at the time of their terrorism-related arrest 
  • Between April 2017 to March 2018, 7,318 individuals were referred to the government’s Prevent programme.
  • 1,314 individuals discussed at a Channel panel, 920 (70%) did not receive Channel support, and 564 (61%).
  • 394 individuals received Channel support following a Channel panel.
  • 57% of the 7,318 individuals were aged 20 years or under.
  • 44% of those referred were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism
  • 18% of those referred were referred for concerns related to right-wing extremism.

The below image is sourced from The Home Offices 'Individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent Programme'.

People referred to the Prevent Programme

Role of Social Media in Radicalisation 

Social media and online platforms are becoming increasingly popular in the role of radicalisation. And with the increased about of young people on social media, more young people are exposed. There are millions of young people online every day and unfortunately, there is a small percentage of the population who use social media to radicalise and recruit vulnerable people.

It is easy for anyone to open an account under a fake, age, name or gender and therefore effectively remain anonymous. Recruiters can share content that promotes their views like news articles and videos. Various social media platforms can be used to promote, share and influence people. 

There are nearly 50,000 pro-ISIS accounts that have been identified on Twitter.

On YouTube people set up dummy accounts to repost videos that get taken down almost immediately.

Instagram (being solely used for sharing photos) can be used to share photos of recruiters lives, where they live and promote a happy and full life in what they do that may not be accurate. 

Tumblr can be used for longer arguments and provoke conversation. Until recently, Tumblr was allowed to contain adult content.

Other sites like Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest and hundreds more also allow people to sign up under false identities, allowing for children under the appropriate age to sign up as well as radicalisation recruiters to also mask their identity.

Who is vulnerable?

Some terrorist groups seek specific individuals, some seek mass recruitment for a larger movement. Group bonding and peer pressure are necessary for children to think that violence is a reasonable response to injustice. 

There is not a particular way to preempt someone adopting a terrorist ideology. If this ideology is part of a family belief then it is possible for young children to be vulnerable to radicalisation. 

This being said, it has been found that when children search for an identity or community then they are particularly vulnerable. 

Other factors that may have an influence on someone who is vulnerable are:

  • peer pressure 
  • influences from others
  • anti-social behaviour
  • social media or online sources 
  • differing personal or political opinions
  • being involved in crime or victims of crime (as well as race or hate crime)
  • bullying
  • tensions within the family
  • lack of self-esteem

Support for vulnerable individuals 

'Channel' is the programme that is used to provide support in the early stages when children are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It has a multi-agency approach to:

  • identify those at risk
  • assess the extent of the risk
  • develop a support plan for the individual

This programme is a referral scheme for childcare providers if they are concerned about a child. However, at this stage, an individual's involvement with the programme is voluntary.

What to do if you have concerns

Any safeguarding policies should have systems in place to protect children against extremism. If you or an employee has any concerns then you should follow normal safeguarding procedures as dictated in your safeguarding policies and speak to the safeguarding leader within your workplace. 

In Prevent priority areas, there will be a Prevent lead who is able to provide support. If it is deemed necessary, the safeguarding lead within your workplace will first discuss the matter with a child's social care. The safeguarding lead may also contact the local police or the 101 non-emergency number to get support and advice. 

As well as this, the Department of Education provides a phone number - 020 7340 7263 - for education professionals to raise concerns relating to radicalisation directly. For non-emergency situations, they provide an email:

What is Prevent Duty Training? 

Our Prevent Duty Training is designed for those working in Education and childcare and educates them on their duty to prevent children from being drawn into terrorism and extremism. 

Our training teaches employees that Prevent Duty should not stop children from debating extremist views, but it the wider act of safeguarding to stop them from getting drawn into acts of extremism or radicalisation. 

Our course is broken down into 2 sections:

  • Section 1: Recognise - how to recognise warning signs that suggest radicalisation is taking place.
  • Section 2: Respond, Report & Record - how to respond, report & record signs of radicalisation in a child

Our CPD Accredited Training is now available for you and your employees to purchase? Or you can get started with your free no-obligation trial today!

Prevent Duty Training
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