Heads of university security are integral to the safety and security of the institutions they serve. The Prevent duty has clear relevance to their role. In some cases, heads of university security are the appointed leads on this agenda although this depends on individual institutions. There are a range of resources available to support security staff to understand the relevance of Prevent. The Safe Campus Communities training modules that may be of particular relevance to University Chief Security Officers are Module 4: Implementing the Prevent Duty and Upholding the Principles of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech and Module 6: Risk Assessment and Action Planning – Ensuring a Proportionate Response. There are also resources, case studies and opportunities for sharing best practice on the Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO) website.
One area that Chiefs of Security are likely to be involved with are the policies and procedures of university events. The government’s Prevent duty guidance specifies that universities should have policies in place for the management of events on campus and the use of their premises. These should apply to staff, students and visitors and set out what is required for any event to proceed. The guidance advises that there should be a system for assessing risks associated with planned events which should enable institutions to suggest whether an event should proceed, be cancelled or whether acts to mitigate risk are required. This should also be the case for off-campus events that are affiliated to, funded by or branded by the university.
Events will often involve external speakers. The Prevent duty guidance specifies that universities must consider whether the views being expressed, or likely to be expressed, by speakers constitute extremist views that risk drawing people into terrorism or are shared by terrorist groups. Universities must be confident they can mitigate such a risk without the cancellation of the event. Universities should develop a guest speaker or freedom of speech policy to deal specifically with external speaker events. External speaker policies should provide universities with a structure for assessing speaker related risks, guidance on which can be found in Universities UK’s External Speakers in Higher Education Institutions. More resources and information on hosting external speakers can be found in the Safe Campus Communities External Speakers section and case studies of campus events are also available.
The Prevent duty guidance specifies that where legal and appropriate universities should have procedures in place for the sharing of information about speakers with other institutions and partners. The AUCSO website contains a protocol that advises staff on how to engage in information sharing whilst also respecting their obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Staff Awareness / Training
The Prevent duty guidance requires that staff involved in the physical security of a university’s estates have an awareness of Prevent, and that in many cases this can be achieved through engagement with AUCSO. The guidance also recommends that appropriate members of staff have training to recognise factors that make people support or engage in terrorist activity, how to recognise vulnerability to terrorism, and what action to take in response such as Channel referrals. Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP) training can be accessed online through the JISC website and information about training can also be provided by Prevent Regional Coordinators.