Universities and colleges across the country are from today (Friday 18 September) legally required to take steps to prevent students from being drawn into terrorism.
The Prevent duty, introduced as part of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, came into effect for key bodies including schools, health bodies and police on 1st July. The duty has now commenced for higher and further education institutions after guidance specifically addressing the issue of extremist speakers was approved by Parliament last night.
Security Minister John Hayes said:
We have seen all too starkly and tragically the dangers of radicalisation and the devastating impact it can have on individuals, families and communities.
The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism.
There is absolutely no place for hate preachers at British colleges and universities and there is no place for those who excuse, justify or try to legitimise terrorism in British society.
Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation is a job for all of us.
The new guidance makes clear that extremist speakers must not go unchallenged and ensures colleges and universities have proper risk assessment processes for speakers. The guidance also sets out that institutions must ensure that they have appropriate IT policies, staff training and student welfare programmes in place to recognise and respond to the signs of radicalisation.
The move comes as young people continue to make up a disproportionately high number of those arrested in the UK for terrorist-related offences and of those who are travelling to join terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq.