Dr Steve Hewitt (CAL)

My public engagement work and interests pertain to security and intelligence, particularly terrorism and counter-terrorism, in a US-UK-Canada context,  topics that reflect the focus of my teaching and research.  Another area of interest although one that I am less frequently called upon to discuss is Canadian studies.  As result of both of these interests,  I have made frequent television and radio appearances including on BBC Midlands Today, BBC West Midland’s Inside Out, BBC One’s The Big Questions, Sky News, the BBC News Channel, Fox News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio’s Sunday Edition and The Current, Minnesota Public Radio, and local BBC radio stations, including BBC Radio Wales and BBC West Midlands. In February 2012, The Guardian ran a full-length story about my research and book about informers.  I have also published op-ed pieces in The Guardian, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and the I. Furthermore, I am a regular contributor to The Conservation. A piece I did for it in October about Canada’s new prime minister had over 25,000 views in its first 24 hours. Finally, I have made direct forays into face-to-face public engagement, including lectures to a variety of audiences such as on a cruise ship, at a local historical society, to the British-American Business Council and at the Canadian High Commission.  

Email: S.R.Hewitt@bham.ac.uk


As part of Leading to Engage Steve organized and hosted a public debate which took place on May 24th, 2016 at 6pm (Room 101, Library of Birmingham, Broad Street). More details of the event below:

Does the UK need Prevent? A Public Debate

Prevent is a controversial strand of the UK government’s strategy for dealing with domestic terrorism. According to the Home Office, the programme aims to stop individuals from being drawn into violent extremism either as a participant or supporter. Publicly launched ten years ago in 2006, it has been revised since then but has continued to be criticized by a range of groups. Some have alleged that it unfairly targets certain communities; others see it as an illiberal measure with a negative impact on basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech. Defenders argue that it is needed and useful and that critics fail to suggest practical alternatives.

Under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, higher education institutions, schools, and the NHS are all now legally required to comply with the Prevent statutory duty. This requirement for these bodies has generated yet more controversy and provides the opportunity for an informed discussion about Prevent, including whether it is needed in its current form or at all?

Darshna Soni, Home Affairs Correspondent of Channel 4 News, will chair the debate.

Speaking against Prevent will be Dr. Imran Awan.

Speaking in favour of Prevent will be Dr. Jonathan Hurlow.

Dr. Awan is an Associate Professor in Criminology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University.  He has published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers, journals and books in the area of policing, Muslim communities and counter-terrorism. Imran is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks Project organised by Faith Matters, a non-profit organisation which hopes to show the scale of the problem of anti-Muslim hate crime and provide support for victims and is the Founder and Director of the Ethnic Minority Research Network in Criminology. As well as appearing regularly in the media, Imran has submitted both written and oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, and sits as an independent member of the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred based in the Department for Communities and Local Government.  Imran’s books includeExtremism, Counter-Terrorism and Policing (Ashgate 2013) and Policing Cyber Hate, Cyber Threats and Cyber Terrorism (2012).

Dr.  Hurlow produces and chairs public debates for the Birmingham Medical Institute and Birmingham Salon on a range of topics including immigration, violence, freedom, immortality and happiness. He sits on the Committee for Philosophy in Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatry. He is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in Birmingham.  He was a Research Officer for the 2013 APPG for Drug Policy Reform Inquiry into ‘Legal Highs’.

The organizer of the event is Dr. Steve Hewitt, Department of History, University of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham has kindly provided funding for the event.