Delivering Prevent: A guide for effective practice

Delivering Prevent: A guide for effective practice

The TIHR was commissioned by the Home Office to undertake research to identify the factors that contribute to ‘effective’ Prevent implementation.

The TIHR was commissioned by the Home Office to undertake research to identify the factors that contribute to ‘effective’ Prevent implementation.

In 2017, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) was commissioned by the Home Office to carry out research into Prevent practice. The overall purpose of the research was to identify what ‘effective’ implementation looks like and develop a Guide, aimed at those who are interested in delivering projects with a Prevent focus (or who may already be doing so), offering practical tips to guide practice in what is a complex and challenging area of work.


Prevent is part of the UK’s counter-terrorist strategy (CONTEST), and aims to support those most at risk of radicalisation through early intervention.

Delivering Prevent depends on leadership and delivery through a wide network of partners –communities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and public sector institutions (especially since the Prevent duty was been introduced in 2015). A fundamental part of Prevent is the work done by CSOs, funded to deliver projects that have various aims, such as: increasing understanding of radicalisation and awareness of the risks of radicalisation; building resilience to terrorist narratives; and supporting people to help them know what to do if they have concerns that someone may have been radicalised.

These projects work with a range of people, including frontline staff (for example from education or health), parents and guardians, families, faith and community leaders, and young people. The types of projects vary in length and delivery methods. They include, for example, 1-2-1 support; short training sessions for larger groups (e.g. forum theatre workshops in schools); multiple sessions for smaller cohorts (e.g. for example to increase critical thinking skills); training sessions to upskill frontline staff.

With this context in mind, the key focus of the research was to bring together the key learning, based on the experiences of those currently delivering this work, in order to provide insights into the processes of implementation that lead to desired outcomes.

More specifically, the key research objectives were to identify:

  • The key factors for successfully implementing local Prevent projects associated with positive impacts, and whether (and how) these factors can be transferred to other projects (or areas);
  • Key barriers to implementation, and how they are overcome;
  • How projects successfully engage with different types of people.


The research was carried out between 2017 and 2018 and involved:

  • Interviews with project leads of 16 Civil Society Organisations delivering Prevent projects across geographical location, delivery setting (e.g. schools, community settings), intensity (short-term, medium-term, sustained), participant type (e.g. young people, parents, or frontline staff), and scale (large, medium or small providers;
  • In-depth fieldwork with 9 of these 16 projects (selected to provide geographical spread, and a cross-section of delivery settings, audiences, project length and scale): this included interviews with key delivery staff, direct observations of project activities, and interviews/focus groups with beneficiaries (68 interviews in total);
  • Interviews and focus groups with 23 Local Authority Prevent Coordinators, Prevent Education Officers, and Prevent Engagement Officers;
  • A workshop attended by a mix of provider organisations, local authority, and Home Office staff, designed to reflect on the research findings and to refine the content of the Guide Collection and analysis of other recent relevant research and evaluation work.

What did we find? 

Our research identified that a project is most likely to achieve its intended outcomes when it:

  • Is well-planned, clearly specifying its core components so that its design is adapted to the local context, needs of the community, area, and/or institution in which it is delivered, and of the people it intends to reach;
  • Engages with relevant local stakeholders to ensure it recruits those who will most benefit from the project;
  • Builds a project team with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise;
  • Creates a positive legacy of project involvement, by encouraging follow-up activities to sustain the benefits beyond the direct involvement with the project;
  • Has the organisational capacity and capability to deliver in one or more areas.

More about the Guide 

The Guide is divided into four parts, which provides more detail and brings together learning and examples that have worked well for some providers currently delivering Prevent and that can be adapted to meet local needs.

Part 1: Planning and designing a project to maximise success, offering tips on what to consider during the initial phases of a project.

Part 2: Delivering a project, which identifies the key factors that facilitate recruitment of sufficient numbers and the ‘right’ type of participants onto projects; addressing barriers to participation; building an effective project team (e.g. the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise and credibility required).

Part 3: Achieving a lasting legacy, outlining examples and tips on what to think about to build sustainability of outcomes.

Part 4: Expanding a project, and the factors that facilitate the success of this process.

Project team:

Dr Kerstin Junge (Project Director), Giorgia Iacopini (Project Manager), Dr Thomas Spielhofer, Matt Gieve, Dr Elizabeth Cory-Pearce, and Camilla Child.

The TIHR research team would like to thank the provider organisations, project participants, Prevent Coordinators, Prevent Education Officers, Prevent Engagement Officers, and Home Office staff, who have been involved in this research. We are also grateful to Dr David Parker (Marie Curie Fellow, Aarhus University, Department of Political Science, and Visiting Research Fellow, King’s College London, Department of War Studies), Dr Paul Thomas (Professor of Youth and Policy and Director of Research for the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of Huddersfield), and Rashad Ali (Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue), who have been advisors to this study.

For further details please contact Giorgia Iacopini, Senior Researcher / Consultant at TIHR.

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