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LAST MODIFIED ON: 02/02/2018 - 14:20
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In 2009, the Welsh Government published Getting on Together: a Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales. The strategy was aimed at local authorities and their partners, supporting them to develop a strategic approach to strengthening community cohesion in their respective areas. Its vision for the country is one which 'value[s] diversity and [in which] different groups live alongside each other in harmony'. In addition to this strategy, in 2016, the Welsh Government published Respect and Resilience - Developing Community Cohesion. This included guidance and a good practice document that aims to support the development of community cohesion and preventing violent extremism in all secondary, pupil referral units, special schools and other educational settings.
The Welsh Government’s EU Transition Fund has helped to expand the regional community cohesion programme and the network of coordinators to help identify potential problems in their areas. Their role is to reduce local tensions through engagement and reassurance and to facilitate collaboration between public services. Additional funding from the EU Transition Fund will also be used to build on the existing network of coordinators to undertake specific work to mitigate community tensions relating to Brexit. Funding from the Welsh Government’s EU Transition Fund will go towards reducing the scale and impact of hate crimes in Wales. The funding will go to Victim Support Cymru, to increase the capacity of the National Hate Crime Report & Support Centre, and to organisations who work with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and minority faith communities, to help tackle hate crime experienced by these members of the community.
Although neither the strategy nor its associated action plans are aimed specifically at children and young people, they recognise that working with schools and other education-related bodies is important.
The Welsh Government’s new community cohesion plan is currently pending publication. See article on ‘Current debates and reforms’ for more information.
Young people's rights
Children and young people's rights
The Welsh Government works closely with young people, local authorities and non-governmental organisations while developing policies to ensure that the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are adhered to. The Welsh Government website Children's Rights Wales also provides resources on the UNCRC for young people under the age of 18 and individuals working with young people.
The Children's Commissioner for Wales champions and raises awareness about the rights of children and young people, as outlined in the article on 'Administration and Governance'. In addition to running campaigns and visiting schools and young people's groups across Wales, the Commissioner recruits volunteers at primary school level and above to promote children's rights and the Commissioner's work in local communities.
There are a number of pieces of legislation setting out rights; covering both young people and adults.
The Human Rights Act 1998 gives a clear legal statement of citizens' basic rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Equality Act 2010 harmonises and extends previous equality legislation in order to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. Under the Act, the following are ‘protected characteristics’, or the categories to which the law applies: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Protection from discrimination is valid in schools, colleges, workplaces, clubs, youth service, hospitals, and council services.
The Data Protection Act 2018 controls how an individual’s personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. It updates the UK’s previous data protection laws to be more appropriate for the UK’s digital economy and society, hence it repeals the Data Protection Act 1998. It applies the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK legislation in preparation for when the UK leaves the European Union. The Act broadens the scope of individual’s data and information it protects to all general data, law enforcement data, and national security data, in order to protect the privacy and rights of individuals. Individuals are given more power and control of their data: to know what data is held about them, how it is being used, and when it should be deleted. The Act provides further protection to children’s data; the Information Commissioner’s Office provides a summary:
- to process children’s data online, children, aged 13 and over, can provide consent without parental consent (unless it is for a preventative or counselling service);
- when processing data of children under the age of 13, reasonable efforts must be made to verify the person providing parental consent holds parental responsibility for the child;
- privacy notices and processes must be designed to allow children to easily understand and access, to exercise their data protection rights, and erase their personal data;
- if the original processing was based on consent when the individual was a child, erasure of that data when requested must be complied; and
children’s personal data for marketing purposes, user profiles or creating personality, have specific protection. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives individuals the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations. The Information Commissioner's Office provides advice for education providers on how to comply with the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts.
Key initiatives to safeguard democracy and prevent radicalisation leading to violent extremism
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 made the Prevent Duty a statutory duty for all local authorities, early years providers, schools and higher and further education establishments to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. This UK-wide duty has three strategic objectives:
- responding to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat posed by those who promote it
- preventing people from being drawn into terrorism and ensuring they are given appropriate advice and support
- working with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.
Prevent is one of four strands of CONTEST, which is the UK Government’s 2011 counter-terrorism strategy. Specific guidance related to Prevent for early years providers and schools, further education institutions and higher education institutions is available. Furthermore, a Prevent e-learning training package and PREVENT training courses are available.
Channel is a police-led multi-agency approach, within the PREVENT strategy, to protect people at risk from radicalisation. Channel uses existing collaboration between local authorities and statutory partners, as reflected on the Safeguarding Board: schools; health, police, youth offending services, youth services, children’s social care and education. All partners are required to:
- identify individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism
- assess the nature and extent of that risk
- develop the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.
The aim of Channel is to safeguard children, young people and adults, and to prevent them from being drawn into committing terrorist related activity. It aims to ensure that vulnerable children, young people and adults of any faith, ethnicity and background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those who want them to embrace terrorism and before they become involved in criminal terrorist activity.
Wales specific guidance on Prevent
Following the announcement of the Prevent Duty, in 2016 the Welsh Government published an updated guidance document entitled Respect and Resilience - Developing Community Cohesion, intended to accompany Getting on Together - a Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales. The refreshed guidance provides supplementary information in the context of the Prevent Duty for local authorities, schools, and other public bodies involved in education. It also includes a self-assessment tool which is aimed at helping the latter to ensure that they are able to meet the legal requirements of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The guidance highlights the importance of schools' "[creating] safe learning environments so that learners can develop understanding, awareness and resilience".
Following the introduction of the Prevent Duty, the Welsh Education inspectorate, Estyn, has assessed the arrangements schools have in place both to promote pupil welfare and prevent radicalisation and extremism. More information can be found in the document Supplementary guidance: inspecting safeguarding in schools and PRUs (2017).