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Prevent Guidance

Prevent and the law

Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on specified authorities – including most higher education institutions – to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. This is commonly referred to as the ‘Prevent duty’.

The Act also requires those authorities to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State in meeting the Prevent duty. That guidance identifies various areas that require policies and procedures, properly followed and applied, from relevant higher education bodies (RHEBs).

The University and individual Cambridge Colleges (as autonomous, self-governing bodies) are required by law to comply with the Prevent duty. The governance and operational structures that need to be in place across the collegiate University to achieve this have been carefully considered, including in the light of measures already in place to mitigate many of the risks described.

Prevent and freedom of speech

The Act makes clear that RHEBs must balance their duties under Prevent with their legal requirements in relation to freedom of speech and academic freedom, as enshrined in other legislation. Freedom of expression is itself an important means to challenge and prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

Prevent and safeguarding

It is important to note that specified authorities have considerable freedom in terms of how they implement their responsibilities under the Prevent duty, and that the University takes a proportionate and risk-based approach to these matters.

Both the University and the Colleges have well established arrangements in place to mitigate a number of the drivers of criminal extremism and promote positive, respectful relations among its students, staff, and others (such as visiting academics, temporary workers, apprentices, interns and volunteers). Our well established diversity networks, the role of the University Chaplain and the investment in faith-related facilities play an important role in this regard. So too does the close level of pastoral care provided by College tutors, nurses, counsellors and other support staff. Students at Cambridge also benefit from many student-run networks, including those provided by the students' union and others in individual Colleges.

The University is committed to the wellbeing of its students, staff and others, has many support services available, and is renowned for the richness and diversity of cultural activities provided to its members and the public.

How the University oversees Prevent

The University operates a Committee on Prevent and Freedom of Speech – a joint committee of the General Board and the Council – to oversee its compliance with the Prevent duty.  The name and remit of this committee stresses the importance placed by the University on balancing compliance with the Prevent duty against other legal requirements in relation to protecting freedom of speech and academic freedom.

The Resources and Guidance page explains the policies and procedures in place and the Training page introduces and links to the University's training in this area.

Contact details for queries or concerns about any Prevent-related matter are available on the Key Contacts page.

The Higher Education sector's implementation of the Prevent duty is regulated in England by the Office for Students, with whose accountability and monitoring mechanisms the University is obliged to comply.