Agenda item

Thurrock Council's Response to Prevent Duty 2015


The Community Safety Partnership Manager introduced the report and stated that the Council’s Prevent duty was outlined in the 2015 Counterterrorism Act, and Members would be asked to scrutinise Thurrock’s response to Prevent and help to improve services. She stated that the national current threat level was classed as substantial, which meant that a terrorist attack was likely. She explained that the threat level had remained the same after the tragic death of Sir David Amess MP, as although it was being treated as a terrorist incident, there was no specific threat to the wider UK. She stated that the LGA self-assessment was included at appendix two of the report, and helped local authorities mitigate threats. She explained that Thurrock also had its own Channel Panel that assisted people who were vulnerable to terrorism, and appendix 3 of the report contained Thurrock’s annual self-assessment. She stated that counterterrorism had been a priority of the Community Safety Partnership in 2021, and would likely continue to be a priority in 2022, alongside the local Prevent Strategy which had been developed and consulted on with the Prevent Working Group.

The Community Safety Partnership Manager explained that the Prevent self-assessment worked using a Red, Amber, and Green rating system and had found seven green criteria and three amber criteria. She explained that one of the amber criteria related to the Prevent training programme, which had moved online since the onset of COVID. She explained that although the team had received positive feedback on the training, there was currently no needs assessment in place which would ensure the training was reaching the right people and being undertaken correctly. She added that now the training was online there was no system to be able to monitor who completed it. The Community Safety Partnership Manager added that the Home Office were currently renewing the training offer, but all Thurrock schools had somebody trained and accredited in Prevent, in line with the Section 157 safeguarding assessment. She explained that the next amber criteria related to venue hire. She commented that a policy regarding Prevent and venue hire and been adopted by Thurrock Council and sent to schools, and a policy regarding venue hire and community buildings was currently being drafted. The Community Safety Partnership Manager stated that the final amber criteria related to community engagement with Prevent, as she felt this area could always be improved upon.

The Community Safety Partnership Manager added that Thurrock was a non-funded Prevent Council, but the national Prevent scheme had now begun to provide local Prevent advisors, who would develop communications with stakeholders and would help include Prevent in the Local Plan. She summarised and stated that the Channel Panel assessment was also being updated to include new processes and ensure all vulnerable people were appropriately supported.

Councillor Anderson stated that the murderer of Sir David Amess MP had been reported to Prevent and had worked with the Channel Panel. He asked what was being done to ensure people continued to be monitored once they had completed the Channel Panel process. The Youth Offending Operations Manager replied that he sat on the Channel Panel and explained that people were subject to a six and twelve month review once they had completed the process. He stated that once they had completed the process, they were linked with positive resources in the community to reduce risk as much as possible. He stated that at the twelve month review, the person was provided with a clear exit strategy and continuing support where necessary. Councillor Anderson questioned if people completing Channel Panel were paired with a role model at the end of the process. The Youth Offending Operations Manager replied that people who completed Channel Panel were linked to positive role models within their community who could provide an ongoing support network, for example people referred to Channel Panel because of Islamic extremism were linked with positive Mosques and Imams; and people referred to Channel Panel because of right wing extremism were linked to relevant positive organisations for support.

Councillor Okunade left the meeting at 8.50pm

Councillor Abbas highlighted the risk assessment at appendix 2 of the report, and queried how the Council would work with local for hire venues to ensure they met the Prevent duty. The Community Safety Partnership Manager replied that during COVID venue hire had been immaterial because of government restrictions, so the Council had focussed on Prevent in schools. She stated that currently the venue hire process in relation to Prevent for Council buildings and schools, had been finalised and agreed, but this process still needed finalising for community venues such as village halls. She explained that community venues could not be forced to adopt the Prevent venue hire policy, but could be advised and encouraged. Councillor Abbas then questioned how effective the Prevent system was at countering terrorism. The Community Safety Partnership Manager replied that an independent review into Prevent was currently underway, and some findings were being pre-empted, which was why local Prevent advisors were being established. She highlighted that Thurrock was not a Prevent funded area, but had completed the Prevent self-assessment. She added that the Prevent system had learnt lots of lessons from incidents such as the Parsons Green bombing, and worked with the Channel Panels to ensure all Prevent recommendations were being fulfilled. She explained that Thurrock were currently undertaking an audit of cases that had gone through Channel Panel, and children identified as at risk of going through Channel Panel to ensure that all steps were being undertaken. The Youth Offending Operations Manager added that the team were ensuring all the necessary checks had been carried out. He explained that the Channel Panel had thousands of successful interventions across the country, but this was negated by the handful of unsuccessful cases that were reported extensively in the media.

Councillor Ralph asked how the team were working to educate young people against extreme beliefs, particularly at college and university level. The Community Safety Partnership Manager replied that the Education Safeguarding Forum had been briefed today and resources for schools shared, including education against extremism for those aged under 16 called Educate Against Hate. She stated that resources for schools, such as lesson plans and information for parents, was also available through the Lets Talk About It website. She mentioned that representatives from Palmers College and South Essex College also sat on the Prevent Board and attended seminars on how to have a conversation with young people about terrorism.

The Chair thanked the team for their work and questioned why left-wing extremism was not discussed as part of the Prevent strategy. The Community Safety Partnership Manager replied that the team received quarterly briefings that outlined current Prevent issues that directed and dictated the strategy. She stated that the latest focus was surrounding Incels, which was now included as part of the local strategy. She explained that the briefings did not currently include left-wing extremism and therefore were not included as part of the strategy.

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

1. Scrutinised and assured themselves of the response to the self-assessment audit completed using the Local Government Association Toolkit and provided for scrutiny at Appendix 2.

2. Scrutinised and assured themselves of the response to the Channel Panel self-assessment completed in April 2021 and provided for scrutiny at Appendix 3.

3. Agreed a process through the annual work plan for monitoring of identified actions to ensure Thurrock Council fulfils its duty in relation to Prevent.

The Youth Offending Operations Manager left the meeting at 9.08pm