An initiative created and implemented by Cardiff Metropolitan University's multi-faith team in order to counteract terrorism and radicalisation has been adopted by the Home Office to roll-out across UK Universities.
Wales' eight universities will initially roll out the Prevent programme, followed by all other universities, when the law is introduced on April 1st and will change the way Universities operate.
The Prevent strategy is one of the four elements of CONTEST, the government's counter-terrorism strategy and focusses on stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, while protecting people's right to worship.
Cardiff Metropolitan University is entirely compliant with the 2015 Counter Terrorism & Security Bill, and is the only University to have its work validated and templated by the Home Office
Cardiff Met's protocols have been introduced across South and North Wales Universities by The South Wales Radicalisation Working Group, which is chaired by Rev. Dr Paul Fitzpatrick, Chaplain and Prevent Co-Ordinator at Cardiff Met.
This group acts as the primary dissemination tool for rolling out projects in the community.
Dr Fitzpatrick, who has been supported by the University while working on this research for the last three years, said: "University students are often susceptible to new ideas and are engaging with new ideas. They therefore represent an area of vulnerability.
"Prevent incorporates a range of different actions and first and foremost, is about protecting students. The project has involved theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology, which are all part of our chaplaincy agenda. The research has focussed on people and what is important to them and what they believe. It is a challenging but interesting and rewarding agenda.
"This piece of research has given us another area of expertise, which is a critically important one. We realised that there was growing pressure from Parliament for Universities to address counter-terrorism because of the requirements of the 2015 Counter Terrorism & Security Bill, and we picked up on that, because we agreed that it needed to be done."
The University recognised risks and proactively formed a team three years ago to address these before they became an issue.
Dr Fitzpatrick continued: "It is empowering to be able to understand what a person is seeing and feeling and to get a respectful handle on their perspective and why they adopt a certain belief and position.
"We benefit from a fluid dynamic at Cardiff Met, in terms of responding to student emergencies and this naturally fell into our remit and the research has been fascinating."
The research addressed radicalisation psychology in terms of recruitment and grooming, with a firm focus on protecting students rather than prevention or prosecution. Pro formas and policies have been prepared, based on this evidence validated research, which addresses how cultic and dangerous groups potentially infiltrate Higher Education Institutions structurally, physically, via external speakers and conferences and online.
It has been carried out by three of Cardiff Met's multi faith team, including Laura Jones, the UK's only fully qualified Muslim female chaplain, and considers a wide range of sectors (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, online and health), where there are risks of radicalisation.
Templates, policies and training packages devised by Dr Fitzpatrick, in partnership with the Home Office, will be used as a template by other Higher Education Prevent Co-ordinators in universities across the UK. Each will adopt a unique, risk-based package with individualised policies and practices which reflect the particular risks faced by each institution.