Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Risk of Being Drawn into Terrorism) (Revised Guidance) Regulations 2024 - Motion to Approve

– in the House of Lords at 11:08 am on 24 May 2024.

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom:

Moved by Lord Sharpe of Epsom

That the draft Regulations laid before the House on 7 May be approved.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Lords, this instrument relates to Prevent in Scotland. After the approval of both Chambers last year, the Prevent duty guidance for specified authorities in England and Wales came into effect on 31 December 2023. Prevent is one of the pillars of Contest, the United Kingdom’s counterterrorism strategy. The aim of Prevent is to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. It also extends to supporting the rehabilitation and disengagement of those already involved in terror. Put simply, Prevent is an early intervention programme to help keep us all safe. To do so effectively, it requires front-line sectors across society, including education, healthcare, local authorities, criminal justice agencies and the police, to support this mission.

This is why we have the Prevent duty, set out in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. It sits alongside established duties on professionals to protect people from a range of other harms, such as involvement in gangs or physical and sexual exploitation. The Prevent duty helps to ensure that people who are susceptible to radicalisation are offered timely interventions before it is too late. Of course, none of this is easy. There is no single track to a person being radicalised. Many factors can, either alone or combined, lead someone to subscribe to an extremist ideology, which in some cases can lead into terrorism. These factors often include exposure to radicalising influences, real and perceived grievances and an individual’s own susceptibility. The Prevent duty guidance exists to help those working in front-line sectors navigate these challenging situations. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act requires specified authorities to have regard to this guidance.

It is challenging, but we must always strive for excellence, so the Government are committed to ensuring that Prevent is effective. The Independent Review of Prevent was published on 8 February 2023 and in it Sir William Shawcross made 34 recommendations, all of which were accepted by the Home Secretary. Last year, we implemented the Prevent duty guidance for England and Wales, responding to several of Sir William’s recommendations, and the updated guidance for Scotland, which is the subject of this statutory instrument, was issued on 7 May and will ensure that Scotland, too, can benefit from updated guidance and best practice. The Home Office worked at pace with the Scottish Government to ensure that the updated Prevent duty guidance for Scotland is closely tailored to the Scottish context.

The guidance has updated Prevent’s objectives to make it clear that Prevent should tackle the ideological causes of terrorism. It sets out requirements more clearly articulating the need for high-quality training so that risk can be identified and managed. It provides an updated threat picture and gives details of the strategic security threat check, which helps Prevent recognise and respond to the greatest threats. This will ensure that Prevent is well equipped to counter the threats that we face and the ideologies underpinning them.

As well as responding to the recommendations in the Independent Review of Prevent, the guidance reflects current best practice. It supports and exemplifies the excellent work that we know takes place across the country to help keep us safe and prevent people from becoming terrorists or from supporting terrorism. The guidance will assist specified authorities in Scotland to understand how best to comply with the duty. It includes details of the capabilities that they should have to be able to identify and manage risk. It also advises on how they can help create an environment where the ideologies that are used to radicalise people into terrorism are challenged and not permitted to flourish.

People with responsibilities relevant to the delivery of Prevent were consulted on the guidance. A range of key Scottish Government partners were engaged throughout the development of the updated guidance; their feedback has been positive. The Government have been working closely with these partners to roll out the guidance and support its implementation.

Subject to the approval of this House, the statutory instrument will bring the new guidance into effect on 19 August 2024, replacing the 2015 guidance. It will strengthen the Prevent system and help us to keep safe. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Labour

I stand briefly to say that the Intelligence and Security Committee fully supports this.

Photo of Lord Coaker Lord Coaker Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Opposition Whip (Lords)

We support the extension. It is important to highlight that this statutory instrument simply extends the guidance to Scotland. Although counterterrorism legislation is a reserved matter, the delivery of the Prevent programme is for the devolved Administrations, so this is therefore necessary with respect to Scotland. I have only one question: why 19 August? We wondered why it could not be immediate. Is there a particular reason for that? Notwithstanding that, we fully support the SI.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank both noble Lords for their support. Given that this is my second-to-last outing from the Dispatch Box, I am delighted to be able to answer that question: I have not the faintest idea.

Motion agreed.