Exploring the capabilities of Prevent in addressing radicalisation in cyberspace within Higher Education

Liam Sandford

Abstract


The Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) introduced a binding duty on public sector bodies in the United Kingdom (UK), including education, to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. The Prevent duty has become widely controversial in the Higher Education (HE) sector with questions as to whether it contravenes academic freedom and freedom of speech.

This research seeks to identify how Prevent may be applied to cyberspace to reduce risk of students being radicalised online at universities. Through semi-structured interviews (N= 16) with individuals working in Prevent and HE, attention is given to the capability of monitoring and filtering website content, which must be considered by universities as part of Prevent compliance. In addition, non-technical methods of reducing radicalisation in cyberspace are explored. Consideration is given to building students’ resilience to challenging information they see online through developing counter-narrative content for social media platforms. With students developing counter-narrative content themselves, specifically addressing vulnerability drivers to radicalisation, universities can enhance compliance with Prevent and create counter extremist content which can be used in cyberspace both in and outside of HE.

Keywords


Prevent Duty; Counter Terrorism; Radicalisation; Higher Education; Counter-narratives

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References


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