Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories
You will be aware of how heightened tensions and conflict in the Middle East, as seen in recent weeks, can often have a knock-on effect on inter-faith relations, hate crime incidents and exploitation by extremists here in the UK. As such, we have put together the below short refresher on Prevent referrals, thresholds and incidents in schools in order to help provide clarity in conversations with stakeholders and partners.
Protest & Prevent Referrals
Where someone is concerned a person may have been deliberately exposed to harmful terrorist narratives, it is right that they refer them to the necessary authorities. A Prevent referral does not amount to an accusation of criminality. Rather, it allows for a multi-agency safeguarding assessment to be conducted and vital support to be provided to help divert vulnerable people for engaging in harmful activity. Prevent is first and foremost about safeguarding, and through this referral, the person will be able to receive the vital support they need.
All referrals to Prevent are carefully assessed based on the specific details of the case. If a vulnerable individual is found to not be at risk of radicalisation, the case is immediately closed to Prevent. They may be referred to other appropriate safeguarding services, or no further action may be taken.
Lawful non-violent protest or activism does not meet the threshold for Prevent referrals. Holding legitimate political views is not an indicator for extremism provided they are not expressed or furthered by statements, deeds or actions which result in harassment, intimidation or threats of violence against individuals or society itself.
Prevent & Schools
Pupils’ engagement and interest in political issues should be encouraged – young people may feel passionately about a range of issues. Schools should however ensure that political expression by pupils is done sensitively, avoiding disruption and feelings of intimidation or targeting for other pupils and staff. Schools should also make every effort to ensure that this activity does not extend to discriminatory bullying or involve the expression of antisemitic or other discriminatory views. Where this does happen, we expect schools to deal with these incidents with all due seriousness, in line with their behaviour policy.
Depending on the circumstances, safeguarding leads may also look to determine whether abusive and discriminatory views expressed or shared by pupils are representative a wider vulnerability, and consider the appropriateness of engaging with support through the Prevent programme. We trust teachers and other staff to exercise their professional judgment about whether a referral is appropriate, as they do for all other safeguarding risks. However the subject of radicalisation is still new to many frontline professionals and it may take time for them to fully understand the issues and take action which is proportionate. Further training and more discussion around radicalisation will help in addressing this, and we also provide advice and guidance on Educate Against Hate to support safeguarding leads in making these decisions.
Prevent & Schools
Particularly in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and antisemitism and Islamophobia emanating as a result of this, you may find the below links useful.
The Community Security Trust (CST) has published a number of resources on their social media feeds, including guidance on how to communicate about Israel in a non-antisemitic way. A host of other resources can be found on their website here: Educational Resources – CST – Protecting Our Jewish Community. CST also has a national emergency number which should be used to report antisemitic attacks, alongside calling 999: 0800 032 3263.
Tell Mama is a confidential support service for those suffering from Islamophobia across the UK. Their website features a number of different ways to report anti-Muslim hate or Islamophobia, including via phone or WhatsApp: Report in Anti-Muslim Hate or Islamophobia (tellmamauk.org). The site also hosts useful resources, including on mosque security.