The enactment of the counter-terrorism ‘Prevent duty’ in British schools and colleges: Beyond reluctant accommodation or straightforward policy acceptance

Joel Busher, Tufyal Choudhury, Paul Thomas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)
    33 Downloads (Pure)


    When Britain imposed the ‘Prevent duty’, a legal duty on education, health and social welfare organisations to report concerns about individuals identified as at-risk of radicalisation, critics argued it would accentuate the stigmatisation of Muslim communities, ‘chill’ free speech, and exacerbate societal securitisation. Based on 70 interviews with educational professionals and a national online survey (n=225), this article examines their perceptions of how the duty has played out in practice. It then provides an explanation for why, contrary to expectations, not only has overt professional opposition been limited, but there has been some evidence of positive acceptance. It is argued that these findings neither simply reflect reluctant policy accommodation nor do they simply reflect straightforward policy acceptance, but rather they comprise the outcome of multi-level processes of policy narration, enactment and adaptation. Three processes are identified as being of particular importance in shaping education professionals’ engagement with the duty: the construction of radicalisation as a significant societal, institutional and personal risk; the construction of continuity between the Prevent duty and existing professional practices; and the responsibilisation of first-line professionals. The conclusion reflects on the wider public and policy implications of these findings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)440-462
    Number of pages23
    JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
    Issue number3
    Early online date30 Jan 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Studies on Terrorism on 30/01/19, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    The Aziz Foundation


    • counter-terrorism
    • education
    • enactment
    • Prevent
    • prevent duty
    • schools

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations


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