Prevent in Scotland - Q&A Briefing
Q. How does Prevent Work?
A. Prevent works by identifying individuals who may be at risk of being exploited by violent extremist narratives and drawn into terrorism; assessing the nature and the extent of their vulnerability, and, where necessary, providing an appropriate support package tailored to their needs.
A concerted effort has been made to ensure that the preventative, rights-based approach taken in Scotland is balanced, proportionate and aligned to existing safeguarding procedures.
Q. What happens when someone is referred to Prevent?
A. No matter the ideology or idea which sits behind vulnerability (if indeed this is clear), the collective focus is always the early identification of risk to an individual in order to safeguard their well-being. In certain cases a referral initially considered to be Prevent related might more appropriately be dealt with by partner agencies using existing internal safeguarding processes and procedures.
On receipt of a Prevent referral, Police Scotland’s Prevent Delivery Unit undertakes an initial assessment of vulnerability before agreeing the appropriate response with partners. Where a vulnerable individual is identified as requiring support via Prevent Case Management (PCM), multi-agency partners will come together as part of a Prevent Multi-Agency Panel (PMAP) to discuss what support they could provide which would benefit the individual concerned.
Q. Who makes Prevent referrals?
A. Anyone can make a referral. Referrals can come from a wide range of sources which could include: social services; health; education; police; and members of the public.
Q. Is the process voluntary?
A. Safeguarding the individual remains the priority but participation in activities that result from a PPC Panel remains voluntary. Consent is required to be given by the individual (or their parent/guardian in the case of a child) in advance of their involvement in activities or actions that have been recommended.
Q. What kind of support can Prevent provide?
A. Support may include signposting individuals to other professionals and may also include an opportunity for potentially vulnerable persons to debate issues with an accredited mentor who can challenge and suggest credible alternative viewpoints. Or, as is often the case, the emphasis may be on identifying the individuals broader support needs and providing it may be about providing access to mainstream support services.
Q. Comparison of the referral data with previous years shows that there has been an increase in the proportion of referrals received due to concerns of radicalisation associated with the Extreme Right Wing. Does this indicate an increase in the threat from these groups in Scotland?
A. Ensuring that professionals and communities are properly equipped with the right awareness of the signs of radicalisation is a core way in which Prevent can be effectively delivered. This awareness raising covers all ideologies that can be used to radicalise vulnerable individuals and ensures that staff are aware of the signs that someone is being radicalised and are confident in knowing how to make a referral where appropriate.
Whilst the number of referrals to Prevent in Scotland cannot be used to infer any particular trend of increased threat, we know that the risk from Extreme Right Wing groups has increased across the UK and it is vital that the awareness raising provided to staff and communities is reflective of this situation.
Q. What does ‘Other’ mean as a source of referral?
A. The ‘Other’ Category listed as a sector of referral relates to those referrals that cannot be categorised in any of the other sources listed and includes referrals made by members of the public, by friends and families or other referrals. As these referrals can be from many different sources they have been captured as ‘Other’.
The Scottish Government and Police Scotland strive to foster positive relationships with our communities and engage regularly to discuss a whole range of issues, of which Prevent is one. As a result of developing these strong community relationships over many years, we believe communities are comfortable that concerns can be raised in confidence without causing undue anxiety.
Q. Why have you not included a breakdown of ethnicity and religion?
A. Individuals are not referred to Prevent because of their ethnicity or religion. Referrals are made where there is a concern that an individual may be vulnerable to being drawn in to terrorism regardless of ethnicity, religion or other factors.
Q. Why have you not included a breakdown by local authority?
A. Data has been provided to give an idea of the scale and nature of Prevent referrals across Scotland, without making it possible to identify any individuals. The number of people referred in any given local area will be small and could lead to the identification of those referred to the programme.
Individuals who are referred to Prevent and who receive support do so with assurances about the confidentiality of the process. There should be no concerns that the release of data will lead to the identification of an individual. This would undermine the approach and reduce the number of people willing to engage with the process.
Q. Can you provide further breakdowns of data?
A. No, Prevent is a confidential programme. Data cannot be broken down further as this may lead to the identification of individuals.
Q. Has the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the lower referrals this year?
A. There were fewer referrals to Prevent in 2020/21 than in previous years (55 in 2020/21 compared with 100 in 2019/20 and 126 in 2018/19). This coincides with many statutory sectors being closed or only partially open during periods of ‘lockdown’, when restrictions were in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is therefore highly probable that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health measures contributed to the lower number of referrals in 2020/21, with reduced levels of in-person contact making individuals’ vulnerabilities less visible to referring bodies.