Radicalisation and Extremism

Radicalisation is a psychological process where vulnerable or susceptible individuals are groomed to engage in criminal, terrorist activity.

It can be hard to know when extreme views become dangerous.

Radicalisation can be difficult to spot. Signs that may indicate a child is being radicalised include:

  • isolating themselves from family and friends
  • talking as if from a scripted speech
  • unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
  • a sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
  • increased levels of anger
  • increased secretiveness, especially around internet use

Children who are at risk of radicalisation may have low self-esteem or be victims of bullying or discrimination. Extremists might target them and tell them they can be part of something special, later brainwashing them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.

However, these signs don't necessarily mean a child is being radicalised – it may be normal teenage behaviour or a sign that something else is wrong.

(NSPCC, Protecting Children from Radicalisation)

Prevent Duty

Prevent is part of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Prevent focuses on all forms of terrorism and operates in a 'pre-criminal' space'. The Prevent strategy is focused on providing support and re-direction to individuals at risk of, or in the process of being groomed or radicalised into terrorist activity before any crime is committed. Radicalisation is comparable to other forms of exploitation; it is a safeguarding issue that staff working in the health sector must be aware of.

Radicalisation is a process by which an individual or group adopts increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.

The Prevent Programme is designed to safeguard people in a similar way to safeguarding processes to protect people from gang activity, drug abuse, and physical and sexual abuse.

Tailored support for any individual identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism is offered through the voluntary Channel panel. This is a Local Authority led multi-agency panel, which decides on what the most appropriate support package for that person will be. On this panel, like many others, the health sector plays a pivotal role in providing appropriate health services for an individual's needs, whether that be through primary care, mental health services or wider support services.

In 2015, the Prevent Statutory Duty under Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 was made a statutory responsibility for the health sector. The Duty stated that the health sector needed to demonstrate “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

NHSE Prevent Training and Competencies Framework states:

'Staff must be able to recognise key signs of radicalisation and be confident in referring individuals to their organisational safeguarding lead or the police thus enabling them to receive the support and intervention they require.'

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