Questioning the Prevent referral process

At the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee this Thursday, I questioned the effectiveness of the referral process in the 2015 Prevent Duty.

The duty requires public servants to refer students and other people suspected of being vulnerable to extremism activity to a borough level Channel board.

These referrals are increasing, but more positive aspects of Prevent, such as promoting community cohesion, aren’t being consistently funded across London’s boroughs, the committee heard from guests who work in the field.

I said that we cannot ignore the negative views that exist about Prevent and the use of referrals is at the heart of these.

It appears to me that making referrals is possibly the least helpful thing you could do out of the wide package of measures within Prevent. Involving Londoners in more positive activities such as discussions in classrooms and universities, as well as creative and social events bringing communities together,  are the things we should be making a higher priority.

A recent Ofsted report said “Too many providers see the Prevent duty as little more than a ‘tick-box exercise’ and do not regard it as an important part of their responsibilities towards learners.”

It was also clear from the evidence we heard that it is a challenge for many boroughs to work the more proactive and positive aspects of Prevent work into their programmes without adequate funding or resources, particularly if they have been designated a non-priority area.

I hope that changing the focus of Prevent and adding resources for its more positive side is something that the Mayor and his new team will look at carefully when drafting the next Police and Crime plan.

Watch the exchange in the committee here: