As part of the Government’s strategy to reduce terrorism in the UK, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a range of measures with the aim of countering the threat of radicalisation and the risk of people being drawn into terrorism.
As part of this, public bodies, including higher education institutions (HEIs), are now subject to the statutory Prevent Duty under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. This means that the University of Warwick, along with other universities, is required by law to demonstrate that we have arrangements in place and pay due regard to the need to safeguard people in our community from being drawn into terrorism.
On this page, we outline what these arrangements are at Warwick, provide background information on the University's duties, and provide information on the guidance and support in place for our students and staff.
What are the Government's requirements?
The Prevent Duty Guidance for Higher Education (issued in September 2015) makes it clear that all HEIs are expected to establish senior management oversight arrangements; carry out a Prevent Duty risk assessment; develop an action plan to address compliance with the Duty; undertake staff training for relevant colleagues; have in place policies and procedures for managing events on campus; provide sufficient pastoral welfare and chaplaincy support; have appropriate policies relating to the use of IT equipment for research, teaching and recreational purposes and engage with their Students' Unions.
The Prevent agenda is not new - the change in 2015 is that it has become a statutory Duty and a legal obligation. As such, the University already has the majority of the requirements of the Prevent agenda embedded in our existing policies and approaches to the wellbeing of the community. Compliance with the statutory Duty at Warwick may require a refresh of existing practice, but will not require the University to implement significantly new processes.
Our compliance with the statutory Duty is monitored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Context of the University’s response to the Prevent Duty
The University, in considering its response to this statutory Duty and related policies, must be conscious of a number of factors which include:
The University’s Charter sets out the University’s core objects; these being:
“The advancement of learning and knowledge by teaching and research and the provision of University education” and to “do all such other acts….as may be requisite in order to further the objects of the University as a place of education and learning.”
The University’s Public Benefit Statement notes that the work of the University is governed to ensure that:
“Students and potential students benefit from the excellent education that the University offers, and that the general public benefits from the generation of knowledge and the long-term impact of the University’s research.”
“By being places of debate universities are one of our most important pillars of civil society, and represent a safeguard against forces that divide and undermine society. If universities are to be the innovative and dynamic organisations that push back the boundaries of knowledge in areas of science, social sciences and the humanities, they must also be places where differing and difficult views can be brought forward, listened to and challenged.”
The University’s Values are articulated in our Looking Forward Strategy and are the core principles that guide our approach to everything that we do. Our value on “Community” states:
“Ours is a lively university community that encourages and challenges ideas, promotes dignity, respect, health and well-being, and makes Warwick welcoming”.
What are we doing at Warwick?
At Warwick, we are committed to the wellbeing of our students, staff and those who visit our campus, and we approach our safeguarding duties under the Prevent agenda as part of our existing wellbeing policies and procedures. We have a well-established student support referral pathway which describes how any wellbeing matter is supported through Wellbeing Support Services. The University has very well integrated pastoral and support services which encompass not only Wellbeing Support Services, but the Residential Life Team, the Senior Tutor and personal tutor network, the Security Team, the Chaplaincy and Human Resources amongst others. We have strong mechanisms in place to support any member of the University community who is undergoing difficulty, and effective routes for referral and support on any issue of concern, not just in relation to the Prevent Duty.
The University also has well-defined processes for research ethics and governance in relation to sensitive research, well-understood policies for the appropriate use of IT equipment and infrastructure, an external speaker policy that integrates with that of the Students' Union, and the University has, over the years, already carried out appropriate training for key support services staff on the Prevent agenda in support of safeguarding and wellbeing.
Work is ongoing to refresh our policies on external speakers to ensure that we have an effective, but proportionate and pragmatic process in place reflective of the different needs of the different constituencies of the University. A review is underway of our pastoral support mechanisms to ensure that they remain best practice and able to support the wide range of support requirements we are currently facing, not just this agenda. Work is ongoing to roll out the approved training to a wider group of front facing colleagues engaged in student and staff wellbeing and pastoral support.
All of these strands of work are described in our action plan, which is part of our statutory Duty and which will be updated on these pages periodically. We have also provided our statement of preparedness, which was our initial assessment to the HEFCE, of the University’s compliance against the requirements of the Duty; along with the narrative report which formed part of the University’s submission to the HEFCE of detailed information on compliance with the Duty as at 1 April 2016, and the 2015/16 Annual Report on complicance with the Duty submitted to the HEFCE on 1 December 2016.
How is the oversight of the Prevent Duty governed at Warwick?
We have established a working group, comprising of colleagues within the wellbeing support teams, to develop our approach to the statutory Duty. The University’s Steering Committee, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and President, has oversight of the University’s implementation of the Prevent Duty and approves the University’s action plan and related statutory documents. The Senate receives regular updates and the University’s Council has ultimate accountability regarding the University’s compliance with its statutory obligations. The Equality and Diversity Committee has noted that if there are matters that relate to its agenda, it will consider these as appropriate.
The Vice-Chancellor and President will be convening and chairing a review group to advise on the appropriate level of compliance for our University. The group will meet quarterly and will comprise academic experts in the field, students, and other staff as appropriate.
Additionally, engagement continues to take place with Trades Unions through the termly Joint Consultative Committee meetings.
The University also engages with the Students' Union through sabbatical officer involvement in the University’s governance processes and through the external speaker processes within the SU.
Feedback has also been taken from staff and student meetings held in the Spring term 2016. The Vice-Chancellor’s review group will also afford further opportunity for engagement.
As part of the ongoing discussions around the University's implementation of the Prevent Duty, the Vice-Chancellor and President shared his reflections via the Executive Team's blog on 4 April 2016.
Any member of the University community who has a non-urgent concern about individual issues relating to any matter concerning safeguarding or wellbeing in our community is encouraged to contact Wellbeing Support Services via email@example.com.
For all emergency wellbeing concerns, please contact the Security Gatehouse on 024 7652 2222 or internal extension 22222.