SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter contains information on Government strategies to prevent terrorism and violent extremism. It also covers the indicators which can make children and young people vulnerable to radicalisation and violent extremism and explains the different responses available when practitioners have concerns about specific children, young people and families.
- Early Help
- Complex Needs and Child Protection
Since 1 July 2015 all schools and child care providers have been required to have regard to the statutory guidance issued under Section 29 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Paragraphs 57-76 of the guidance are concerned specifically with schools and childcare providers, registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers are subject to a duty under Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, in the exercise of their functions, to have "due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism".
Prevent is a Government strategy which aims to prevent people becoming involved in violent extremism or supporting terrorism, in all its forms. Prevent predominantly works within the non-criminal space, using early engagement, intervention and disruption to encourage individuals and communities to challenge violent extremist ideologies and behaviours.
The Prevent duty applies to a wide range of public-facing bodies. The specified authorities are those judged to have a role in protecting vulnerable children, young people and adults and/or the national security.
The Prevent strategy, published by the Government in 2011, is part of an overall counter-terrorism strategy called CONTEST. The aim of the Prevent strategy is to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
In addition, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (the CT and S Act) Sections 36 to 41 set out the duty on local authorities and partners to establish and cooperate with a local Channel programme of 'Channel panels' to provide support for people, children and adults, vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It is essential that Channel panel members, partners to local panels and other professionals do all they can to ensure that children, young people and adults are protected from harm. Channel panel members will make referrals to Children's Social Care where concerns are identified about complex needs or child protection concerns as per the Derby City and Derbyshire Thresholds Document (see Documents Library, Guidance Documents).
Channel is about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist related activity.
Radicalisation is defined as the process by which people come to support terrorism and extremism and, in some cases, to then participate in terrorist groups.
"Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas." (HM Government Prevent Strategy 2011).
Since the publication of the Prevent Strategy, there has been an awareness of the specific need to safeguard children, young people and families from violent extremism. There have been attempts to radicalise vulnerable children and young people to develop extreme views including views justifying political, religious, sexist or racist violence, or to steer them into a rigid and narrow ideology that is intolerant of diversity and leaves them vulnerable to future radicalisation. Children should be protected from messages of all violent extremism including, but not restricted to, those linked to Islamist ideologies, or Far Right / Neo Nazi / White Supremacist ideologies, various paramilitary groups, and extremist Animal Rights movements.
Keeping children safe from these risks is a safeguarding matter and should be approached in the same way as safeguarding children from other risks.
Children and young people can be drawn into violence or they can be exposed to the messages of extremist groups by many means. These can include through the influence of family members or friends and/or direct contact with extremist groups and organisations or, increasingly, through the internet via social media or other websites. This can put a young person at risk of being drawn into criminal activity and has the potential to lead to the child or young person suffering significant harm.
This may take the form of a "grooming" process where the vulnerabilities of a young person are exploited to form an exclusive friendship which draws the young person away from other influences that might challenge the radical ideology. The risk of radicalisation can develop over time and may relate to a number of factors in the child's life. Identifying the risks require practitioners to exercise their professional judgement and to seek further advice as necessary. The risk may be combined with other vulnerabilities or may be the only risk identified.
On-line content in particular social media may pose a specific risk in normalising radical views and promoting content that is shocking and extreme; children can be trusting and may not necessarily appreciate bias, which can lead to being drawn into such groups and to adopt their extremist views.
Recent case evidence indicates that specific demographic groups have been targeted for radicalisation and grooming, which has led to attempts to travel to conflict zones placing them at risk. Where this risk has been identified, children's services should work with the police and schools to minimise this risk. Action can include taking legal action to remove the child or young person's passport. Parents can apply to cancel their child's passport if they have concerns that they might be planning to travel to a conflict zone (See Cancelling the passport of a child at risk of radicalisation).
With regard to issues that may make an individual vulnerable to radicalisation, these can include:
- Identity Crisis - Distance from cultural / religious heritage and uncomfortable with their place in the society around them;
- Personal Crisis - Family tensions; sense of isolation; adolescence; low self-esteem; disassociating from existing friendship group and becoming involved with a new and different group of friends; searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging;
- Personal Circumstances - Migration; local community tensions; events affecting country or region of origin; alienation from UK values; having a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of Government policy;
- Unmet aspirations - Perceptions of injustice; feeling of failure; rejection of community values;
- Criminality - Experiences of imprisonment; previous involvement with criminal groups.
However those closest to the individual may first notice the following changes of behaviour:
- General changes of mood, patterns of behaviour, secrecy;
- Changes of friends and mode of dress;
- Use of inappropriate language;
- Narrow/limited religious or political view;
- Attendance at certain meetings e.g. rallies and articulating support for;
- "Them" and "us" language/rhetoric;
- Sudden unexplained foreign travel;
- Possession of violent extremist literature;
- The expression of extremist views;
- Advocating violent actions and means;
- Association with known extremists;
- Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.
There is an obvious difference between supporting radical or extreme views, and acting upon them, practitioners should ensure that assessments place behaviour in the family and social context of the young person and include information about the young person's peer group and conduct and behaviour at school. Holding radical or extreme views is not illegal, but inciting a person to commit an act in the name of any belief is in itself an offence.
5. Early Help
The vulnerability of a child to extremism and radicalisation is most often a gradual process that happens over time. This makes it possible to intervene to steer vulnerable children away from being drawn into terrorist-related activities.
Channel is an early intervention multi-agency process designed to safeguard vulnerable people from being drawn into violent extremist or terrorist behaviour. Channel works in a similar way to existing safeguarding partnerships aimed at protecting vulnerable people.
Patterns of behaviour can show whether a person is engaged in an ideology, is intent on causing harm or capable of committing violent acts. These are factors that are assessed at an early stage through the Channel process.
Channel interventions are delivered through local partners and specialist agencies. The support may focus on a person's vulnerabilities around health, education, employment or housing, as well as specialist mentoring or faith guidance and broader diversionary activities such as sport. Each support package is tailored to the person and their particular circumstances.
Anyone can make a referral. Referrals come from a wide range of partners including education, health, youth offending teams, police and children's social care.
Referrals are first screened for suitability through a preliminary assessment by the Police Channel Coordinator. If suitable, the case is then discussed at a Channel panel of relevant partners (who include senior Education and Social Care staff) to decide if support is necessary.
If a practitioner is concerned that a child or young person is vulnerable to being exploited or radicalised, they should discuss their concerns with the named or designated safeguarding lead in their organisation who can raise concerns to Channel if appropriate.
It would be usual for a child or young person to be informed first if it is felt that they would benefit from Channel support. The process is voluntary and their consent would be needed before taking part in the process.
The named/ designated safeguarding lead can always seek advice about disclosure to a child and their parents from Channel.
Contact details: Ring 101 for Derbyshire Police and ask to speak to the Prevent Team.
Channel Email address: EMSOU-SB-Derbys@derbyshire.pnn.police.uk.
To understand more about the Channel Programme further information can be found here:
6. Complex Needs and Child Protection
Where concerns about the impact of radicalisation and extremism indicate that a child or young person is additionally vulnerable and has complex needs or they are at risk of significant harm, a referral should be made to children's social care. (See Making a Referral to Social Care Procedure).
Practitioners, including those working as part of the Channel process, retain the responsibility to ensure that safeguarding concerns are referred to children's social care. In an emergency where immediate action is needed to safeguard a child or young person the police should be contacted on 999.
It would be usual to inform parents that a referral is being made unless it is likely to increase the risk to the child or young person. Experience has shown that parents are key in challenging radical views and extremist behaviour and should be included in interventions unless there are clear reasons why not.
On receipt of concerns about the welfare of children linked to radicalisation and extremism, children's social care will include the Channel Panel as part of the routine enquiries that are made to commence an assessment.
Protecting children and young people from radicalisation and extremism requires careful assessment and working collaboratively across agencies as initially concerns may be inconclusive and protecting child or young person against a potential risk can be dependent on a wider range of factors. Sharing information effectively and keeping the child and young person in focus should be the main aim of any interventions and services.
The following organisations are able to provide additional advice and guidance in relation to safeguarding individuals vulnerable to radicalisation and children who may be at risk through living with or being in direct contact with known extremists:
- Police Anti-Terrorist Hot Line number: 0800 789 321; or
Derbyshire police 101 (or for emergencies: call 999);
- Report terrorism online via: www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.