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New guidance to help universities comply with counter terrorism act

Protocols developed by Cardiff Metropolitan University to prevent radicalisation on campus have been approved by the Home Office and are to be rolled out to universities across the UK.

The Prevent policy document lays out the university’s approach to risk assessment, vetting external speakers, staff training, rules around the use of prayer rooms and how to support national and international students from conflict zones who are considered vulnerable to radicalisation or manipulation.

It has been validated by the Home Office which will distribute it to all UK universities to help them comply with the new duties in the Counter Terrorism and Security Act which comes into effect from April.

The Act requires all universities to appoint a “prevent co-ordinator” and draw up their own counter-terrorism policies.

Cardiff Metropolitan’s protocols are already being introduced across universities in Wales by The South Wales Radicalisation Working Group, chaired by the Rev. Dr Paul Fitzpatrick, chaplain and prevent co-ordinator at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

"University students are often susceptible to new ideas and are engaging with them. They therefore represent an area of vulnerability,” said Rev Fitzpatrick.

"Prevent incorporates a range of different actions and is first and foremost about protecting students. Each university has to have its own risk assessment. At Cardiff Met, we have a lot of international students, so training for international welfare staff has been important. If students from high risk conflict zones come to student services, they are seen more quickly for example.”

The framework was developed after a research project by Cardiff Met’s multi faith team, which includes Laura Jones, the UK’s only fully qualified Muslim female chaplain. Published later this year, the study looks at the psychology of radicalisation and how dangerous groups potentially infiltrate universities to groom and recruit students. 

Protocols include a nine-point plan covering the vetting of external speakers, events, conferences and student societies. There are sections on the requirements of the Act for staff training and awareness and how to deal with request from the police/security services and the sharing of information.

A “prayer room protocol” is also provided which bans the use of written materials in languages other than English and Welsh, with the exception of prayer books and scripture.

The policies and training packages devised by Dr Fitzpatrick, in partnership with the Home Office, will be used as a template by prevent co-ordinators at other UK universities. Under the new legislation, each must adopt a unique, risk-based package which reflect the particular challenges faced by each institution.

 

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