Prevent referrals rise in English universities

OfS data shows formal referrals of individuals at risk of radicalisation have more than doubled in the last three years

Formal referrals by higher education providers in England to Prevent, part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, have risen, according to new data from the Office for Students (OfS).

In 2019-20, higher education providers in England referred 37 individuals they believed may be at risk of radicalisation to local Prevent police, or the local authority – this is up from 15 in 2017-18 and 24 in 2018-19.

Formal referrals to Prevent – also known as Channel referrals, after the multi-agency programme which identifies and supports at-risk individuals in England and Wales – are made only after a provider’s student services team, and/or a designated safeguarding, welfare or Prevent lead, have become involved and external advice sought from Prevent partners, such as a Department for Education co-ordinator.

The sector-level data is drawn from providers’ accountability and data returns (ADRs) for academic years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Following referral by a higher education provider, the police and/or the local authority, the Channel panel will assess the nature and extent of the risk to an individual, and develop “the most appropriate support plan” for them.

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