Counter-terrorism strategists, Leicester Prevent, have become a leading model for good practice across the UK and Europe with their community based approach.
Part of a wider Government initiative, Prevent operates at a local level, working within the community to combat all forms of terrorism and extremism. Running in close partnership with local authorities, the strategy looks to target risk through education, identification and support.
Leicester Prevent Co-ordinator, Will Baldet, implements the strategy across the Leicestershire and Rutland region from the St. Philip’s Centre base. With a strong track record of promoting integration and inter-faith relations amongst the city’s multicultural population, the St. Philip’s Centre location plays a key role in the success of the program.
Will said: “Leicester understands that for a strategy such as Prevent to work effectively, it must involve communities at a grass-roots level. By basing my role in The St Philip’s Centre we are working within, and in consultation with, our communities.”
He added: “Prevent is based upon three aims: to tackle the terrorist ideologies that foster hatred and promote violence, to support those individuals that may be targeted for recruitment (radicalisation) and to work with those institutions (e.g. schools, colleges) where the risks of radicalisation may be greater.”
The strategy adopts a pro-active approach through a range of incentives, including specialist lesson plans for schools that foster critical thinking in young people, ‘safe-spaces’ within communities for the discussion of controversial topics and a range of educational events that promote understanding in Foreign Policies, Extremism, Islamophobia and Worldwide conflicts.
As a community based project, Will is eager that Leicester residents have an input. He said: “Anyone can be involved in Prevent, in fact we actively encourage communities to come forward and become involved, whether that is participating in workshops, designing their own initiatives or being involved in the consultation and delivery of the strategy.
“But it is important that local initiatives are designed to tackle the local risks, so we would recommend contacting us at the St Philips Centre in the first instance to discuss a local approach.”
He added: “My door is always open for those who want to see and hear about Prevent in Leicester and we are soon to launch a Community Challenge Panel where community members can be actively involved in challenging and shaping local delivery of the Prevent strategy.
“ Ultimately it isn’t the Police or Government that will defeat terrorism, it is communities.”
People can raise their concerns and seek support by contacting the Prevent team on 101 (ask for Prevent) and the NSPCC has recently launched a helpline for people worried about radicalisation; 0808 800 5000.
For video interview: click here