What is Prevent?

Prevent works by developing a more in-depth understanding of how an individual can become radicalised to the point where they can either become directly involved in terrorist activity or support terrorism.

Prevent is one part of the United Kingdom’s counter terrorism strategy (CONTEST) which aims to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. Prevent utilises a multiagency approach, similar to the one that has already been proved to be highly successful in dealing with other safeguarding issues such as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

It is local authority led and the multi-agency approach allows Prevent to achieve its purpose of safeguarding vulnerable individuals who are at risk of radicalisation.

The Prevent strategy will specifically:

  • Respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it
  • Prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support
  • Work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation which we need to address

Prevent does not aim to criminalise people for holding extreme views; it operates in the pre-criminal space. Instead it aims to stop the encouragement or commission of violent activity. Reporting concerns will not automatically cause the person to have a criminal record. Prevent is not an alternative to the criminal justice system. Only if an actual crime has been committed then normal criminal justice procedures will apply.

There are many terms that are associated with the topic of terrorism and it is important that for the purposes of promoting understanding of the aims of Prevent, that they are clearly explained:

  • Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals. This can eventually result in condonation or support of terrorism.
  • Extremism is the holding of political, religious, ideological ideas or actions that are outside the parameters of the moderate mainstream and not normal, reasonable or acceptable to most people. It is important to understand that extremism in itself is not illegal but it can act as a pathway to terrorism.
  • Violent Extremism is where people seek to justify or promote terrorism or encourage others to commit such acts.
  • Terrorism is the use or threat of action where the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

Please note: these explanations are given for the purpose of clarifying the use of terms in this text. They are not legal definitions and their meaning may differ when used in other publications.

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