Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 5:15 pm, 17th December 2018

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have spoken to this amendment, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Stunell. I will be happy to update the House on some of the work that is going on. The Government agree wholeheartedly with the principle that activities under the Prevent strategy are made as transparent as possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, mentioned the Prevent oversight board. I am pleased to hear that it met just the other day. However, there is great interest in the operation of the Channel programme, and the publication of statistics on it has already added to that transparency, dispelled some of the myths which surrounded its operation, and provided useful substance to debates in this House. We have so far published data on referrals to Prevent, and the progress through the Channel system of those referrals, covering in detail 2015-16 and 2016-17 and, in lesser detail, the previous years from April 2012. The latest set of statistics, covering 2017-18, was published last week.

The published data covers the numbers at different stages of the process from initial referral, through discussion at Channel panel, to the provision of support. It includes, among other things, the type of extremism which led to the referral; the age, gender and regional location of the person referred, and the sector which made the referral. It also looks at how successful the programme is.

The data is still at a relatively early stage in its development and is therefore classed as experimental statistics. Feedback from users is very important as the dataset develops, and it is clear from noble Lords’ comments that additional categories of data, such as the religion and ethnicity of those who are referred—as the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, said—would be a welcome addition to the current set. As I indicated in Committee, working through the Home Office chief statistician, we would be happy to explore including this data in future publications. At this stage, that would depend on the quality and completeness of the data.

I mentioned in Committee that currently at least half of the records supplied to the Home Office do not include ethnicity or religion. The publication of such variables could therefore be misleading at this stage. There will clearly be more work which officials can do to ensure that this data is captured and recorded in an accurate and nationally consistent manner.

I return briefly to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, in Committee. He was interested in whether referrals made by the police were more or less likely than others to end up being discussed on Channel panels and offered support. I promised at the time to look at the underlying data to see if such an analysis were possible, and I am happy to confirm what my noble friend Lady Barran said on that occasion—that this data already forms part of the published data set and can be found in accompanying tables available on the GOV.UK website.

On the understanding that the Home Office chief statistician is looking at the issue raised in this amendment, I hope the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw it.