What is the Prevent programme?
The core mission of Prevent is stopping people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The early intervention support provided by Prevent addresses the personal, ideological, and social factors which make people more susceptible to radicalisation.
- works in partnership with front-line professionals such as teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities and civil society, psychologists, community leaders and others;
- is delivered by local authority teams, local policing teams, community organisations and charities that have the best expertise in their area;
- does not target any one community and deals with all forms of terrorism, including Islamist, extreme right-wing and a range of emerging threats
- is not limited to any age group;
- will not show up on any criminal record checks;
- is not a tool for spying or surveillance, and the Prevent duty does not place any restrictions on free speech. It is part of the wider safeguarding obligations we have towards protecting people from harm;
- provides training for educators, healthcare staff and other frontline staff to help them understand and implement the Prevent duty and protect susceptible people in their care. The Prevent duty must be implemented in line with the requirements set out in the Equality Duty.
A network of partners delivers Prevent in local communities
Statutory partners: Under the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, ‘specified authorities’ including schools, colleges, universities, health, local authorities, police, and prisons must consider the risk of radicalisation as part of their day-to-day work. The Prevent duty requires specified authorities to help prevent the risk of people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. As the threat of radicalisation evolves, we have updated our training for frontline professionals to help equip them with the skills and knowledge to spot the signs of radicalisation and make a referral where appropriate. Prevent duty guidance was published in September 2023 and more information is available on the factsheet.
Local authorities: Oversee delivery of the programme locally, collaborating with partners to understand and respond to local risks. Areas where the risk of radicalisation is highest have dedicated Prevent Coordinators, whereas others are supported by Home Office Regional Advisors.
Civil society organisations: Prevent provides funding for a wide range of organisations across the country. Projects include a variety of initiatives, such as critical thinking workshops, the use of sport as intervention and online safety training for parents. This empowers and builds resilience in communities enabling them to challenge extremism and terrorism wherever it tries to take root.
What is a Prevent referral?
A Prevent referral can be made by anyone who is concerned that they, or someone they know, is susceptible to radicalisation or might be at risk of becoming involved in terrorism or supporting terrorism. This could be a family member, friend, colleague, or a professional.
If an individual is found to represent a security threat, they will always be referred to the police for further investigation.
Prevent referrals are not made to the Home Office; they are handled by expert officers in the local police force.
When a referral is made, initial checks will be conducted and if the individual is found to not be at risk of radicalisation, the case is immediately closed to Prevent.
Making a referral
If someone is worried about another individual becoming radicalised and would like to seek advice before making a referral, they can contact their local authority safeguarding team, or speak to a teacher, healthcare provider or another trusted authority.
Contacting the authorities will not get the person into trouble if a criminal act has not been committed. The local authority or police can discuss concerns, suggest how they can best help and provide access to relevant support and advice.
Alternatively, people can visit Counter Terrorism Policing’s website, ACT Early or call the national police Prevent advice line on 0800 011 3764 to discuss their concerns.
Teachers and parents can also learn more on the Educate Against Hate website.
What is Channel?
If the referral progresses and it is assessed that there is a genuine risk of radicalisation, the case is considered by a multi-agency ‘Channel panel’ of professionals who collectively assess the case and decide on a tailored package of support that can be offered to the person.
The Channel panel is chaired by the local authority and can include a variety of partners such as the police, children’s services, social services, education professionals and mental health care professionals.
What kind of support is offered via Channel?
If a Channel intervention is required, a tailored support package will be offered. This could include mentoring, theological guidance, education, and careers assistance to those assessed as being at risk of radicalisation and requiring support. This is known as Channel in England and Wales, and Prevent Multi-Agency Panels (PMAP) in Scotland.
Channel is voluntary and people who are referred to Prevent must give consent (via a parent or guardian if they are underage) before they can be given support.
If a person does not engage with Channel or decides not to continue with the process for any reason, alternative forms of support may be available from the local authority or other providers. Any risks are then carefully managed by the police.
Key Prevent statistics and facts
Since the introduction of the Prevent duty in 2015, over 3,800 referrals have been supported through the Channel Programme. Channel aims to move individuals away from extremist ideology that could have resulted in harm to themselves or others.
6,406 referrals to Prevent were made in the year ending on 31 March 2022. This is an increase of 30% compared to the year ending March 2021 (4,915), likely to have been driven by the associated impacts of lifting the public health restrictions that were in place to control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Of those in custody for terrorism-connected offences in Great Britain as at 31 March 2023, 64% were categorised as holding Islamist-extremist views, 28% were categorised as holding Extreme Right-Wing ideologies, and the remaining 8% were categorised as holding beliefs related to other ideologies. These figures include both those that had been convicted and those being held on remand (that is, held in custody until a later date when a trial or sentencing hearing will take place).
Of all the Prevent referrals in 2021/2022:
- 33% were related to individuals with a vulnerability present but no ideology or CT risk
- 20% to Extreme Right-Wing
- 16% regarding Islamist radicalisation
- 2% to concerns regarding school massacres,
- 1% of concerns were incel-related.
The threat from Islamist terrorism remains the foremost and most significant, accounting for 67% of attacks since 2018 and about three quarters of the MI5 caseload. Through the implementation of the Independent Review of Prevent, greater emphasis will be placed on ensuring that Prevent is delivered in a proportionate manner that focuses on the most prolific threats.
There were 804 referrals adopted as a Channel case in the year ending March 2022. 13% of referrals to Prevent were adopted as a Channel case.
Prevent addresses all forms of terrorism. Of all the Channel cases adopted in 2021/2022:
- 42% were related to extreme right-wing radicalisation (339)
- 19% were linked to Islamist radicalisation (156)
- 15% related to individuals with conflicted concerns (120)
- 5% for school massacre concerns (38)
- 3% for incel related concerns (23)
Individuals aged 15 to 20 accounted for the largest proportion (30%) referrals, with individuals aged under 15 accounting for 29%, followed by individuals aged between 21 and 30 (16%).
The Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) works with individuals who have crossed the line into terrorist activity, aiming to reduce the risk they pose to the UK. The programme works by providing intensive, tailored interventions which support them to stop engaging in terrorist related activity (desist) and to move away from terrorist ideology (disengage).
The programme runs alongside existing statutory risk assessment and management processes such as the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) for managing offenders, to ensure it bolsters and complements work being done through existing frameworks. It is not a replacement for any police investigation or prosecution on individuals who have committed terrorism offences, either abroad or at home.
Find out more about DDP: Factsheet: Desistance and Disengagement Programme