Prevent strategy: safeguarding freedom of expression and preventing stigma

by Professor Lisa Downing and Dr Jonathan Hurlow


Published: February 2021


Psychiatrists are required 'in the exercise of [their] functions' to 'have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism' (Section 26(1) of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015). When carrying out their Prevent duty, psychiatrists may find themselves in situations where their ethical commitment to freedom of expression and wish to avoid perpetuating social stigma are challenged by, or appear in conflict with, this duty.


In response to the enactment of this statutory duty, the Royal College of Psychiatrists' (RCPsych's) Professional Practice and Ethics Committee offers guidance on ethical considerations arising from the Government's counter-terrorism strategy in Position Statement PS04/16S. This includes specific guidance on the risk of perpetuating stigma for people with 'mental illness', 'certain communities', and those who 'dissent against authority'.


This module should enable participants to learn and practise how to critically evaluate the risk of reducing freedom of expression and perpetuating stigma, while upholding this statutory duty.


Start the module


If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Ethical considerations arising from the Government's counter-terrorism strategy by Dr Jonathan Hurlow, Dr Richard Burrows, Dr Saba Mattar and Dr Shazad Farooq 


Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism (podcast) by Professor Kamaldeep Bhui


Counter-terrorism and psychiatry (podcast) by Dr Jonathan Hurlow



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