As per new government guidelines, Principle Simon Gaskell has released a statement to all students announcing that QM must engage with the Government’s ‘Prevent Strategy’
The Government’s ‘Counter-Terrorism and Security Act’, passed in 2015, requires universities to have “due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism”.
‘Prevent’ is the government’s national strategy which aims to “prevent people being drawn into terrorism”. It has already been criticised by the National Union of Students for contributing to “alienation and disaffection” of “students who already feel that the only avenue through with the Government will engage them is ‘anti-radicalisation’ initiatives”.
Plans to implement the strategy include “updating QMUL’s safeguarding policy and providing supplementary training for staff with responsibility for safeguarding and oversight of events.”
“QMUL is required to provide appropriate training and guidance for members of staff whose role involved safeguarding students or organising events with external speakers. This involves being aware of risks and signs of problems for students and knowing how to address them for the protection and benefit of the student.”
“Our approach has been to make measured and reasonable adjustments, where appropriate to meet new duties, while always ensuring that our values and the defining characteristics of a university – and of our university in particular – are carefully maintained and protected.”
Queen Mary will post their revised safeguarding policy on its website once it is available.
A “QMUL Channel Panel” has also been established, who’s term of reference are: “To identify students who are at risk of being drawn into terrorism, assess the nature and extend of that risk and develop the most appropriate response and support plan for the individuals concerned.”
The group, comprised of QMUL and QMSU representatives aims to “work in partnership with members of QMUL and QMSU, the policy, regional Prevent Co-ordinators and representatives of the local community” and “monitor the implementation of Prevent Duty at QMUL.”
At Gaskell’s State of Union Address last month, QMSU President Carolina stated that she “took the position to sit in those meetings to make sure that [she] is being the student voice.”
“I am there to make sure that the safeguarding of students is actually carried out the way it should be by the university and I’m constantly arguing that case.”
Queen Mary have stated that they “don’t anticipate any changes to the way we teach, research or provide student services”, and that they are “developing a risk assessment and implementation plan to meet out obligations regarding Prevent, and this is the next step in this process.”
In an email sent out to all students, Queen Mary Principle Simon Gaskell stated that: “In response to these new obligations, QMUL has been consulting with staff and students and we are reviewing some of our existing policies and procedures.”