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Counter Terrorism Policing – New insight into the world of Prevent

Last modified: 12 August 2020 at 05:14pm

PC Nathan Clifton is the newest member of North Yorkshire Police’s Prevent Team. Here, in the first of a series of blogs, he talks about his journey towards becoming a Prevent Officer and explains this key local role as part of the national counter-terrorism programme…

“I joined North Yorkshire Police in August 2019 after transferring from the Metropolitan Police. I don’t need to explain that it’s a completely different world moving from the relatively small, compact patch of Wandsworth borough compared to the vast, rural district of Selby.

I’ve always held a keen interest in counter-terrorism since I became a police officer. From the initial training we received it was always a career path I wanted to explore. Before any of that, though, the plan was to get my head down and get my grounding on the streets before putting in any applications.

Having been working down south when PC Keith Palmer was killed and at the time of the Borough Market attack, these events really firmed-up that I wanted to be playing my part in the prevention of terrorism.

I arrived in Selby and a short while later the vacancy for the Prevent Officer appeared and, with that ambition I’d carried with me from the Met, I now find myself where I am today.

In the Met I knew we had a Prevent Officer who covered the borough. We had our CT (counter- terrorism) input during training and a brief section on Prevent…and that was it!

My understanding at the time was the literal prevention of terrorism – recognise the signs and submit intel and the powers that be might do something with it.

This low-level of understanding continued through to my transfer to North Yorkshire. I was not fully aware of the scope of work that Prevent actually covers, particularly the multi-agency side of things and liaising with our partners.

I can already see that this is a significant part of the role and it’s the information we receive from them that forms an important part of our ongoing assessment.

PC Nathan Clifton working alongside Neighbourhood Policing Team colleagues 

In the role in North Yorkshire I also naively assumed that there would be a Prevent Officer covering each district. Having myself and my colleague Ben for the entire force was a bit of a shock to the system, as most things were from changing forces!

Prevent plays a vital role in the identification of people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation, for example, be it through their age, their mental health or their views and beliefs. The introduction of the Counter Terrorism Security Act in 2015 places a duty on specified authorities, including the police, to show due regard to preventing people from being drawn in to terrorism.

Referrals can come in from anyone, be it a teacher at school who has recognised a change in a pupil’s behaviour, a colleague within the police who has attended a job and has their own worries for an individual, or a parent who is concerned that their child is spending a lot of time at home online and there has been a noticeable change in their mannerisms.

It’s our job then to assess these referrals and in some cases see if they are happy to take part in the Channel process which I’ll touch on in another blog.

Initially I have focussed on introducing myself to our various partners and agencies who I will be working with, as well as familiarising myself with the process of receiving a referral and the different paths it takes, such as from assessment to Channel to closure.

It’s already so interesting and different from anything I’ve done before. There’s lot of different terminology and acronyms to get to grips with but I’m really looking forward to the additional training and developing the skills that come with the role.”

For more information about Prevent, please go to the “Let’s Talk About It” website www.ltai.info and follow @NypPrevent on Twitter.


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