Oral statement to Parliament

Review of the existing counter-radicalisation strategy known as Prevent

Statement on the review of Prevent given by the Home Secretary on 7 June 2011 in the House of Commons.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This statement was given by the Home Secretary on 7 June 2011 in the House of Commons.

‘With permission Mr Speaker I would like to make a statement on the review of the government’s strategy to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Intelligence indicates that the UK faces a serious and sustained threat from terrorism.

Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but the threat from Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism is not.

Indeed, the threat level from international terrorism remains at Severe - meaning an attack is highly likely.

That threat comes both from foreign nationals and from terrorists born and bred in Britain.

To tackle that threat - as the Prime Minister made clear in his speech in Munich earlier this year - we must not only arrest and prosecute those who breach the law, but we must also stop people being drawn into terrorist related activity in the first place.

That will require a new approach to integrating our divided communities, led by my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and delivered by ministers across the whole of government.

And in counter-terrorism policy, it will require an effective strategy to tackle radicalisation in this country and overseas.

That is why last year I launched a review of the existing counter-radicalisation strategy - known as Prevent.

That review found that the Prevent programme we inherited from the last government was flawed.

It confused government policy to promote integration, with government policy to prevent terrorism. 

It failed to tackle the extremist ideology that not only undermines the cohesion of our society, but also inspires would be terrorists to seek to bring death and destruction to our towns and cities.

And in trying to reach out to those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.

We will not make the same mistakes.

Guiding Principles

Our new strategy is guided by a number of key principles.

Prevent should remain an integral part of our counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, a full update of which we will be publish later this summer.

Its aim should be to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Prevent should address all forms of terrorism, including the extreme right wing. That is only right and proper and will also provide a more flexible basis to adapt to emerging threats in the future.

But in a world of scarce resources, it is clear that Prevent work must be targeted against those forms of terrorism which pose the greatest risk to our national security.

Currently, the greatest threat comes from Al Qa’ida, and those they inspire.

The majority of Prevent resources and efforts will therefore be devoted to stopping people from joining or supporting Al Qa’ida, its affiliates, or like-minded groups.

But Prevent must also recognise and tackle the insidious impact of non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists exploit.

Prevent depends on a successful integration strategy. But integration alone will not meet our counter-terrorism objectives. And our integration programme should go much wider than just security and counter terrorism.

This was a fundamental failing of the last government’s approach. They failed to promote integration, and where they did promote it, they did so through the narrow prism of counter-terrorism.

So we will do more than any government before us to promote integration - including through teaching our history and values in our schools, through National Citizen Service, and through other policies - but we will do so separately and differently from Prevent.

The combined effect of this work and of the new Prevent strategy will be an unyielding fight against extremism, violent extremism and radicalisation.

It is critical that agencies, departments and local authorities work to a common set of Prevent objectives to deliver the outcomes we want.

Public funding for Prevent must be rigorously prioritised and comprehensively audited. The last government was far too lax in spending in this area, as it was in so many others.

And let me reiterate - under this government, public money will not be provided to extremist organisations.

If organisations do not support the values of democracy, human rights, equality before the law, participation in society - if they do not accept these fundamental and universal values - then we will not work with them and we will not fund them.


Within this overall framework, the new Prevent strategy will have three objectives.

First, Prevent will respond to the ideological challenge and the threat from those who promote it.

As the Deputy Prime Minister said in his speech in Luton, we must be much more assertive about our values.

Let me be clear: the ideology of extremism and terrorism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not.

Tackling that ideology will mean working with mainstream individuals and organisations to make sure moderate voices are heard.

It will mean robustly defending our institutions and our way of life.

So where propagandists break the law in encouraging or approving terrorism it will mean arrest and prosecution.

And where people seek to enter this country from overseas to engage in activity in support of extremist or terrorist groups, we will exclude them. Since coming to power, I have already excluded 44 individuals from the UK because of either unacceptable behaviour or for national security reasons.

Protecting vulnerable people

Second, Prevent will stop individuals from being drawn into terrorism and will ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support.

Radicalisation is a process, not a one-off event. During that process it is possible to intervene to stop vulnerable people gravitating towards terrorism. 

We will do this by building on the successful multi-agency ‘Channel’ programme, which identifies and provides support for people at risk of radicalisation.

Mr Speaker, I want to use this opportunity to make one thing clear - Prevent is not about spying on communities, as some have alleged. It is about acting on information from the police, the security and intelligence agencies, local authorities and community organisations to help those specifically at risk of turning towards terrorism.

It is incumbent on everyone in this country to play their part in helping them do so.

Sectors and institutions

Third, we will work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.

It is right to acknowledge that progress has been made in this area, but that progress has been patchy and it must be improved.

So we will work with education and healthcare providers, universities, faith groups, charities, prisons and the wider criminal justice system.

We will also work to tackle the particular challenge of radicalisation on the internet, and to make better use ourselves of social media and other modern communications technologies.

Review Process

This review has been independently overseen by Lord Carlile of Berriew. I would like to pay tribute to him for his contribution.

Lord Carlile has said that the new Prevent strategy has his full support. He said ‘it provides a template for challenging the extremist ideas and terrorist actions which seek to undermine the rule of law and fundamental British political values and institutions.

Its tone is clear, and its policy compelling. It offers a positive message for mutual respect, tolerance and liberty.’


Mr Speaker, Prevent has not been without controversy.

In the past, it received allegations that it was a cover for spying.

These allegations have been found to be false. But now we will make sure that this is seen and known to be the case.

In the past, Prevent was muddled up with integration. It operated to confused and contradictory objectives.

Not any more.

And at times funding even found its way to the sorts of extremist organisations that themselves pose a threat to our society and to our security.

Not under this government.

Let me be clear - we will not fund or work with organisations that do not subscribe to the core values of our society.

Our new Prevent strategy will challenge the extremist ideology, it will help protect sectors and institutions from extremists, and it will stop the radicalisation of vulnerable people.

Above all, it will tackle the threat from home-grown terrorism.

I commend this statement to the House.’

Published 7 June 2011