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.
Channel / Prevent Referral form (see Documents Library, Report Forms and Templates)
In January 2019, this guidance was reviewed throughout and extensively updated to emphasise the importance of intervening early whenever there are concerns that a child or young person is being radicalised, and ensuring that they are offered support via safeguarding services, rather than being criminalised. Links to useful resources for practitioners (including e learning) and relevant Government guidance has also been added (see above).
- Early Help
- Complex Needs and Child Protection
The revised Prevent strategy was established in 2011 to form one part of the UK's overarching counter-terrorism strategy known as CONTEST. Working within the non-criminal space, “the purpose of Prevent is at its heart to safeguard and support vulnerable people to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism” (CONTEST 2018:31). In doing so, it aims to:
- Tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenges of terrorism;
- Safeguard and support those most at risk of radicalisation through early intervention; identifying them and offering support; and
- Enable those who have already engaged in terrorism to disengage and rehabilitate.
Following its inception, the Prevent strategy has implemented a duty on specified authorities under Section (s) 26 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA) 2015 to, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Specified authorities listed under schedule 6 of the Act include, but are not limited to: local government; criminal justice; education and child care providers; health and social care; and the police. These authorities are judged to have an integral role in protecting vulnerable people and/or national security. To ensure adherence to the Prevent duty, the Revised Prevent Duty Guidance, and other more specific guidance for specified authorities, has been published and specified authorities are required to have regard to such guidance in the exercise of their duty (CTSA 2015 s29).Insofar as these statutory requirements make it a legislative duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism, Prevent is about safeguarding and not criminalisation. In the same way support is provided to those at risk of becoming involved in gangs, drugs, exploitation, or other forms of harm, individuals vulnerable to being groomed into violent extremism or terrorism should also be offered support. As such, the focus of Prevent on non-criminal space is integral, ensuring the pre-emption of criminal activity and the protection of both individuals and communities, rather than their criminalisation. To achieve this, Prevent uses early intervention, community engagement and resilience building to encourage individuals and communities to stand up to extremist ideologies and behaviours. Importantly, those who receive support under Prevent do not receive a criminal record.
Radicalisation is defined as “the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism” (HM Government Prevent Strategy, 2011).
"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).
Terrorism is defined as: “the use or threat of action, both in and outside of the UK, designed to influence any international government organisation or to intimidate the public. It must also be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause” (The Crown Prosecution Service, 2018).
Vulnerability is defined as “the condition of being capable of being injured; difficult to defend; open to moral or ideological attack. Within Prevent, the word describes factors and characteristics associated with being susceptible to radicalisation” (HM Government Prevent Strategy, 2011).
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 include: through the influence of friends and family members; direct contact with extremist groups and organisations; or, increasingly, through the internet via social media or other websites. This can put children and young people at risk of being drawn into criminal activity and suffering significant harm.
Radicalisation involves "grooming", where the vulnerabilities of a young person are exploited to form an exclusive friendship which draws the young person away from the mainstream and towards radical and extreme ideologies. It is important to note however that Prevent insists on the maintenance of freedom of expression as per CTSA 2015 s31. As such, whilst radical and extreme views are not a risk in themselves, the vulnerabilities and behaviours exhibited as a result of an occupation on the fringes may well be a cause for concern. Subsequently, identifying risks requires practitioners to exercise their professional judgement and to seek further advice as necessary. See Section 8, Support.
On-line content, in particular social media, poses a significant risk in normalising radical views and promoting content that is extreme. Here, vulnerable young people can become exposed to distorted narratives, interpretations and radical preachers who groom individuals into subscribing to their violent ideologies.
Further, 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. Where this risk has been identified, children's services should work with the police, schools and other relevant agencies to minimise this risk. In this situation, a number of actions can be implemented to protect the young person including preventing travel to conflict zones. For more information see Cancelling the passport of a child at risk of radicalisation (GOV.UK).
Issues that may indicate a young person is vulnerable to radicalisation, can include:
- Personal vulnerabilities/grievances – Identity crisis; mental ill health; special needs/learning disability; isolation/exclusion; racism/discrimination; sense of injustice; searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging; internet; feeling of failure; rejection from community values;
- External vulnerabilities/grievances – e.g. foreign policy; global events; domestic policy; poverty; internet; inspirational speakers.
Those closest to the young person 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 particular groups/ideas;
- "Them" and "us" language/rhetoric;
- Sudden unexplained foreign travel;
- Possession of violent extremist literature and symbols;
- The expression of extremist views;
- Advocating violent actions and means;
- Association with known extremists;
- Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.
- Rejection of western policies, democracy and rule of law;
- Closed to new ideas;
- Questioning faith and identity.
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 of terrorism in the name of any belief is in itself an offence.
5. Early Help
The radicalisation of a child or young person is most often a gradual process that happens over time. This provides opportunities to intervene and steer a vulnerable young person away from being drawn into terrorist-related activities. The multi agency Channel programme is an early intervention initiative to safeguard and support young people and adults who are identified as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism at an early stage. It ensures individuals of any age, faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those wanting them to embrace any criminal terrorist related activity.
In order to achieve the effective safeguarding of vulnerable individuals, s36-41 of the CTSA 2015 sets out a duty on local authorities and partners to establish and cooperate with a local Channel panel. Partners of local panels subject to the provision can be found in Schedule 7 of the CTSA 2015.
Channel is a confidential and voluntary process whereby safeguarding professionals assess the case and discuss the most appropriate support options. As such, individuals have the final say on whether they accept support or not. The support options on offer encompass an array of different interventions, addressing: educational, vocational, mental health and other vulnerabilities tailored to the individual's needs. Ideological support is also common, which may include discussion with credible ideological experts and faith leaders.
Anyone can make a referral, and they are received from a wide range of partners including communities, education, health, youth offending teams, police and children's social care.
Referrals are first screened for suitability through a preliminary assessment by the Police Prevent team. If appropriate, an assessment of the individual's vulnerabilities is made through a Vulnerability Assessment Framework which is based around three criteria: engagement with a cause, group or ideology; intent to cause harm; and capability to cause harm. If suitable, the case is then discussed at a Channel Panel comprised of relevant partners to decide what support is necessary.
If a practitioner is concerned that a child or young person is being radicalised, exploited or holds damaging and extreme ideologies they should discuss their concerns with the named or designated safeguarding lead in their organisation who can raise concerns to Channel if appropriate.In most circumstances, consent should be sought prior to making a Channel referral. However, in some instances it may be appropriate to make a referral without seeking the consent of the individual, including when there are issues around: the health of the individual, law enforcement involvement or the protection of the public.
Contact details: Ring 101 for Derbyshire Police and ask to speak to the Prevent Team.
Please click here for the Channel / Prevent Referral form (see Documents Library, Report Forms and Templates).
Channel Email address: EMSOU-SB-Derbys@derbyshire.pnn.police.uk.
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.
Common practice is 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 collaborative working across agencies is crucial. This ensures the effective safeguarding and welfare of every child, young person and adult. Working collaboratively across agencies as initially concerns may be inconclusive and protecting a 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 referred 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:
Derby City Council Prevent Team
Cohesion and Prevent Manager, Prevent Support Officer and Prevent Education Officer (PEO)
Tel: 01332 640 000
Derbyshire County Council Prevent Team
Senior Community Safety Officer
Tel: 01629 538 494
Derbyshire Constabulary Prevent Team
Tel: 101 (or for emergencies: call 999);
To report activity:
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