SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Working Together to Safeguard Children specifies that LSCP's, local authorities and their partners should be commissioning and providing services for children at risk of sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and radicalisation (Chapter 1, Section 17).
The Counter - Terrorism and Security Act 2015 "places a duty on specified authorities, including local authorities and childcare, education and other children's services providers … to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism ("the Prevent duty")… The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 will also place a duty on local authorities to ensure Channel panels are in place. Panels assess the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. There is a single Panel for Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City supported by the Police Prevent Team Schools and colleges are listed in the Act as partners of the panel.
This chapter was updated in November 2016 with minor changes to terminology and clarification of the on-line reporting process and a link to the Educate Against Hate website has been added.
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 hold 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.
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 should be protected from messages of all violent extremism including, but not restricted to, those linked to extreme Islamist ideology, or to Far Right / Neo Nazi / White Supremacist ideology, various paramilitary groups, and extremist Animal Rights movements.
Prevent, in the context of counter-terrorism is intervention before any criminal offence has been committed with the aim of preventing individuals or groups from committing crimes.
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. This can put a young person at risk of being drawn into criminal activity and has the potential to lead to the child 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 is the product of a number of factors and identifying this risk requires that practitioners exercise their professional judgement, seeking further advice as necessary. It 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 not necessarily appreciate bias that can lead to them being drawn into these groups and adopt their extremist views.
There is some evidence that specific groups such as young Muslim women have been targeted for radicalisation and grooming, leading to attempts to travel to the Middle East and place themselves at risk.
There is no standard template for radicalisation, but issues that may make an individual vulnerable to radicalisation 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:
- Use of inappropriate language;
- Possession of violent extremist literature;
- Behavioural changes;
- The expression of extremist views;
- Advocating violent actions and means;
- Association with known extremists;
- Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.
It should be borne in mind that someone radicalised over the internet may exhibit little change in behaviour.
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. The safeguarding aim should be to engage with the young person and, if there is a cause for concern, to ensure that such views are constructively challenged before an offence is committed.
4. Protection and Action to be Taken
Any practitioner identifying concerns about the child or young person should report them to the identified lead person within their organisation and/or line manager, who will discuss these concerns with the police Prevent Team.
The Police Prevent Team is best contacted via Prevent@Nottinghamshire.pnn.police.uk who will then discuss with you whether a formal referral is required.
Consideration should be given to the possibility that sharing information with parents may increase the risk to the child and therefore may not be appropriate. However, 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.
Wherever possible the response should be appropriately and proportionately provided from within the normal range of universal provision of the organisation working with other local agencies and partners. Responses could include curriculum provision, additional tutoring or mentoring, additional activities within and out of school and family support.
Where a higher level of targeted and multi-agency response is indicated and where concerns are identified in respect of potential signs of radicalisation which indicate the child young person is vulnerable, the person raising the concerns should discuss their concerns with the police Prevent Team who will decide if a referral to the Channel Panel is required. This Panel reviews and refers individuals to programmes that challenge extremist ideology. This may also result in a formal multi-agency assessment being conducted.
Protecting children and young people from radicalisation and extremism is in many respects comparable to the procedure for protecting children from forced marriage or gang related activity; in that 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 than an intervention after an actual act of abuse has occurred.
Reporting online material, which promotes extremism such as illegal or harmful pictures or videos, can be done through the Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism website. Although professionals should follow the Referral Procedures, non professionals may make a report anonymously.
This is a developing area of work and more detailed guidance and training opportunities will be made available in due course.
Inspire - a non-governmental advocacy organisation (NGO) working to counter extremism and gender inequality.
Channel - Supporting individuals vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremists.
Prevent - Part of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy, which seeks to address the ideology that support terrorism and protect vulnerable people.
Childnet International - online radicalisation and extremism.
Educate Against Hate - This website aims to give parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
Prevent Duty Self-assessment Tool: Further Education – self-assessment tool to assist colleges and providers in the further education and skills (FE) sector in England to review their Prevent responsibilities.
Nottinghamshire Police Prevent Team
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101 and ask for Nottinghamshire's Prevent Team.