PREVENT and the model regulations

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act passed onto the statute book earlier this year. Although the legal duty on higher education providers has yet to pass through Parliament, the Home Office has issued guidance for universities and colleges which institutions may use in preparing to meet the duty.

The guidance includes very little on ICT. It does make reference to the existence of acceptable use policies which determine what is and is not permissible use of institutional IT facilities and the expectation that those policies contain specific reference to the statutory duty. With a new academic year about to begin, it is apposite to review regulations. UCISA’s Model Regulations for the use of institutional IT facilities and systems largely meet the requirements of the Act in that they encourage users to behave lawfully and have provision for dealing with those that do not. Although there is reference to the expectation that users should recognise that their behaviour is subject to the law of the land (and clearly the Counter Terrorism and Security Act falls under this umbrella term), the Model Regulations can be strengthened by adding a statement that the institution has a duty under the Act and referring to the Act itself in the list of relevant legislation. Paul Lambert, IT Director at Teesside University offers an example modification, changing the first line of section 7.4 (Inappropriate material) to read:

    < Institution > has a statutory duty, under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, termed “PREVENT”. The purpose of this duty is to aid the process of preventing people being drawn into terrorism.

    You must not create, download, store or transmit unlawful material, or material that is indecent, offensive, defamatory, threatening, discriminatory or extremist. The University reserves the right to block or monitor access to such material.

Currently the duty on HEIs builds on the good practice that already exists in most (if not all) institutions. Although it is not anticipated that the legislation determining HEIs’ duty within the remit of the Act will greatly alter that, we will hold off any formal revision of the Model Regulations until the impact of the duty is fully understood.

Finally, ICT is just one of the areas that the guidance covers; for a more comprehensive overview of the current position for higher and further education institutions, see Andrew Cormack’s blog.

Peter Tinson
Executive Director
UCISA

One thought on “PREVENT and the model regulations

  1. Peter Tinson

    The post above offers one option for wording to help institutions meet their requirements under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act. Andrew Lee from the University of Bath has submitted the text used in their regulations:

    “In compliance with Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, Staff, students and visitors using University IT systems should not create, transmit, receive, view or store material with the potential to radicalise themselves or others. If a member of the University community believes they may have encountered such material, they should contact the Office of the University Secretary immediately.”

    Any others?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *