Safeguarding Children and Young People from the Threat of Violent Extremism

Contents     

  1. Introduction 
  2. The threat from terrorism
  3. National Policies and Strategies
  4. Prevent
  5. Definitions 
  6. Vulnerability Factors
  7. Local Support and Protocols
  8. Training 
  9. Concerns about Adults and Professionals
  10. Further Information

Appendix 1 Summary of procedures to follow where there are potential radicalisation concerns about a child / member of staff 

 

1. Introduction

What are these guidelines? This document provides all agencies working with children, young people and families clear guidance with regards to identifying and responding to safeguarding concerns in relation to violent extremism.

Why do we need these guidelines? The UK faces a very real and ongoing threat from violent extremism.  A small minority of individuals and groups continue to present false arguments and reasoning that seek to justify attacks on innocent civilians. In response to this, the Government is taking tough measures to prevent extremist voices and messages reaching those who are most vulnerable to these radical views.

The current threat from terrorism in the United Kingdom involves the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children, young people and adults in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism. This exploitation should be viewed as a safeguarding concern.

There is no obvious profile of a person likely to become involved in extremism or a single indicator of when a person might move to adopt violence in support of extremist ideas. The process of radicalisation is different for every individual and can take place over an extended period or within a very short time frame.

Who are these guidelines aimed at? Organisations and agencies working with children, young people and families.    

The key contact for comments about this policy is: lscp.info@leeds.gov.uk

 

2. The Threat from Terrorism 

An important part of preventing terrorism is to understand the threat and the drivers for it.  The UK faces several different terrorist threats. The threat from international terrorist groups remains the foremost and most significant. Extreme right-wing terrorism is a growing threat, and in 2016 the government proscribed an extreme right-wing terrorist group, National Action, for the first time. Northern Ireland related terrorism remains a serious threat, particularly in Northern Ireland itself.

2017 saw a shift in the nature of the terrorist threat to the UK. Between 2011 and 2016, there were four terrorist attacks in Great Britain, each targeting a single individual. The Westminster attack in March 2017 was the first to cause multiple fatalities in the UK since 2005. The five attacks in London and Manchester in 2017 killed 36 people. Five victims died in an attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, 22 at the Manchester Arena, eight at London Bridge and Borough Market, and one at Finsbury Park. Many more were injured, including in an attack at London’s Parsons Green Tube Station.

The shift in threat is also demonstrated by the number of potential attacks disrupted by MI5 and Counter-Terrorism Policing. They have foiled 25 international terrorist plots since June 2013, 12 of which have been since March 2017, and four extreme right-wing plots have been disrupted since 2017. 

The number of arrests for terrorism-related offences has risen steadily since 2010. Between 2010 and 2017 there were 2,029 terrorism arrests in Great Britain. As of March 2018, the security and intelligence agencies were handling over 500 live investigations, involving some 3,000 individuals. 

When CONTEST, the UK’s strategy to combat terrorism, was last published in 2011 the global threat from terrorism was assessed to be shifting. Al Qa’ida, while still capable of terrorist attacks in the UK, had become a weaker force than at any time since 2001. It was predicted that Al Qa’ida’s senior leadership would find it increasingly difficult to operate, but that its affiliates and like-minded groups would continue to take advantage of fragile states and aspire to attack western interests. These 2011 assessments have proved largely correct. However, the rapid rise of Daesh, or the impact it would have on global terrorism was not predicted. 

In the UK and Europe, extreme right-wing groups, including neo-Nazis, seek to exploit any anxieties around globalisation, conflict and migration (including any which they are able to link to the Syria conflict) in an attempt to broaden their appeal. These groups may vary considerably in their rhetoric, but they share the racist view that minority communities are harming the interests of a “native” population.

The threat from the extreme right wing has evolved in recent years and is growing. There has been the emergence of several groups, such as Generation Identity, Britain First, and Systems Resistance Network amongst others that preach zero tolerance to non-white, Muslim, Jewish, and LGBT communities. In the past five years, four terrorist attacks in the UK were carried out by lone actors motivated to varying degrees by extreme right-wing ideologies. 

Before 2014, extreme right-wing activity was confined to small, established groups with an older membership, which promoted anti-immigration and white supremacist views but presented a very low risk to national security. The emergence of National Action in 2014 increased community tensions and the risk of disorder. In December 2016, the then Home Secretary proscribed National Action under the Terrorism Act 2000, the first far right group to Safeguarding Children and Young People from the Threat of Violent Extremism – V2 – July 2019 have been done so since World War II. Other UK-based extreme right-wing groups also advocate the use of violence.

Global events and conflicts play an ever increasing role within local communities. These can sometimes lead to community tensions, fuel suspicion, and create divisions between people from different cultures and backgrounds.  Early intervention to prevent individuals being drawn into extremist activity is crucial in order to safeguard them from the risks of being involved in such activity. 

 

3. National Policy and Strategies 

CONTEST is the UK’s strategy to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from terrorism so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence.   The current threat from International Terrorism to the UK is ‘severe’ which means an attack is highly likely. The strategy was updated in 2018 and the updated and strengthened strategy reflects the findings of a fundamental review of all aspects of counter terrorism; building on progress since 2011, the need to evolve to counter new and emerging threats, reflect the changing situation around the world and learn lessons from the tragic attacks in the UK during 2017.

The CONTEST strategy has 4 key strands of work that have a different role to play in tackling the threat from extremism:

  • Pursue – to stop terrorist attacks;
  • Prepare – where an attack cannot be stopped, to mitigate its impact
  • Protect – to strengthen the overall protection against terrorist attacks;
  • Prevent – to safeguard people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Further information about the CONTEST strategy can be found via: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-terrorism-strategy-contest-2018

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 identifies that “children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives…. including the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation”. It goes on to state that “whatever the form of abuse or neglect, practitioners should put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.” Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, P9.

From 1 July 2015 all schools and child care providers must have ‘due 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”. 

This duty is known as the Prevent duty. It applies to a wide range of public-facing bodies which are listed in schedule 6 of the Act as specified authorities in England and Wales, and Scotland. The specified authorities are those judged to have a role in protecting vulnerable children, young people and adults and/or the national security. 

 

4. Prevent 

Prevent seeks to work and intervene with children and young people before any criminal activity has taken place.  It is crucial to recognise that our work in Leeds to protect vulnerable individuals from violent extremism and the threat of radicalisation falls within the safeguarding arena and is no different to safeguarding individuals from a range of other forms harm and abuse.

The refreshed CONTEST strategy includes a revision of the language and a greater focus on disengaging and rehabilitating those engaged in terrorism. Prevent aims to safeguard and support those vulnerable to radicalisation, to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The revised Prevent objectives are:

  • Tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism. 
  • Safeguard and support those most at risk of radicalisation through early intervention, identifying them and offering support.
  • Enable those who have already engaged in terrorism to disengage and rehabilitate.

Prevent Delivery Model

Further information on the Prevent strategy can be found via: : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-terrorism-strategy-contest-2018.

 

5. Definitions 

The Prevent Strategy defines extremism as follows:

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.”

The Prevent Strategy defines radicalisation as follows:

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.”

Radicalisation is usually a process not an event. During this process, there will inevitably be opportunities to intervene in order to reduce the risk of the individual being attracted to extremist ideology and causes and safeguard him/her from the risk of radicalisation.  It is important to be able to recognise the factors that might contribute towards the radicalisation of an individual. Indeed, some of the factors that lead an individual to becoming radicalised are no different to those that might lead individuals towards involvement with other activity such as gangs, drugs, sexual exploitation, etc.  

Those involved in extremist activity come from a range of backgrounds and experiences. There is no single profile of what an extremist looks like or a 10 point plan of what might drive an individual towards becoming radicalised. Therefore, the importance of staff using their skill, expertise, and professional judgement is crucial in not stigmatising individuals that may display some of these factors. 

 

6. Vulnerability Factors 

Below are some of the factors that might contribute towards an individual becoming radicalised. This is not an exhaustive list and the presence of any of these factors does not necessarily mean that he/she will be involved in extremist activity.  However, a combination of many of these factors may increase the vulnerability to extremist activity.

  • Feelings of grievance and injustice
  • Feeling under threat
  • A need for identity, meaning and belonging
  • A desire for status
  • A desire for excitement and adventure 
  • A need to dominate and control others
  • Susceptibility to indoctrination
  • A desire for political or moral change
  • Opportunistic involvement
  • Family or friends involvement in extremism
  • Being at a transitional time of life
  • Being influenced or controlled by a group
  • Relevant mental health issues
  • Over-identification with a group or ideology
  • ‘Them and Us’ thinking
  • Dehumanisation of the enemy
  • Attitudes that justify offending
  • Harmful means to an end
  • Harmful objectives

A further explanation of the above factors can be found via: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/channel-vulnerability-assessment

Where there are signs of significant harm to a child or young person in relation to violent extremism, such as the potential of travel to, or return from, a conflict zone, access to known extremists, extremist networks and funding and equipment, and intent to cause harm to self and others then you should raise these concerns with the Duty and Advice team on 0113 376 0336.

 

7. Local Support and Protocols 

As with other safeguarding issues, where a worker has any concerns that a person or their family may be at risk of radicalisation or involvement in terrorism, they should speak with the organisation’s safeguarding lead and the Prevent single point of contact (SPOC) if this is not the same person.  If the concerns about an individual are not serious enough to be escalated or where there is no evidence that the individual is vulnerable to radicalisation the safeguarding lead / Prevent SPOC may decide that they can be addressed by action within the organisation. In this case, the organisation should take the appropriate action to address any concerns, and review whether the concerns remain after this.

However, where it is deemed that there is a risk to an individual in the context of radicalisation to extremist ideology and causes, the individual should be referred to the Channel programme.

7.1 Channel Programme

Channel is a key element of the Prevent strategy.  It is a multi-agency approach to protect people at risk from radicalisation.  Channel uses existing collaboration between local authorities, statutory partners (such as the education and health sectors, social services, children’s and youth services and offender management services), the police and the local community to: 

  • identify individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism;
  • assess the nature and extent of that risk; and
  • develop the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.

Channel is about safeguarding children and young people from being drawn into extremist activity leading to violence against others. It is about early intervention to protect and divert people away from the risk they face before they are involved in any type of illegal activity.

The Channel process identifies those most at risk of radicalisation, and refers them via the local authority or police for assessment by a multi-agency panel. The panel, chaired by the local authority, considers how best to safeguard them and support their vulnerability through a support package tailored to individual needs. This is similar to the way in which individuals at risk from involvement in crime, drugs and other social issues are supported.

Partnership involvement ensures that those at risk have access to a wide range of support ranging from mainstream services, such as health and education, through to specialist mentoring or faith guidance and wider diversionary activities. Each support package is monitored closely and reviewed regularly by the multi-agency panel.

Further information about the Channel programme can be found via: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/118194/chann el-guidance.pdf   

The latest national Channel data published shows that during 2017/18, of the 7,318 individuals referred, the majority (4,144; 57%) were aged 20 years or under. Those aged 20 years or under also made up the majority of the 1,314 individuals discussed at a Channel panel (818; 62%) and the 394 individuals that received Channel support (259; 66%). The education sector also accounted for the highest number of referrals in 2017/18 (2,462; 33%).

7.2 Referrals 
Referrals to the Channel process come from a wide range of sources, including members of the public, social services, youth offending teams and health and education practitioners.  If you work for a partner organisation and want to know more about Channel or have a concern about an individual and want to make a referral, contact your organisation’s safeguarding lead or Prevent SPOC. Where your organisation requires further support or guidance, or to make a referral, you can contact the local authority’s Prevent Team on 0113 535 0810 or at prevent@leeds.gov.uk.

When a referral is received, a risk assessment of the individual being referred will be undertaken. If there is evidence of potential vulnerability to radicalisation then a multi-agency panel will meet to consider the risks identified and develop a programme of support and intervention to mitigate those risks.  Consent is required from the individual being referred for their participation in the Channel programme.  Members of the panel are from a range of statutory partners such as Children’s Social Work Services, Education Safeguarding Team, Safer Leeds, Housing Leeds, the NHS, Youth Justice Service, and others as appropriate. 

The programme of support will be shared with the child and family.  All partners are responsible for contributing to progressing the plan and this is reviewed by the panel on a regular basis. The plan can be amended to meet any need, identified through a review of the assessment, until such time when the panel agrees to end the plan. At this time, the referral’s notes and plan are prepared for final sign off by the Chair of the panel.

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 Child in Need plan or Child Protection plan is already in place for the child or young person, Channel will link into these processes to ensure there is no duplication of activity and that Prevent concerns are also considered and addressed within those existing plans.

It is important to consider the welfare of children (unborn to 18th birthday) where family members are thought to be involved in terrorism or violent extremism whether the children are directly involved or being drawn in or not.  Having care givers involved in terrorism or violent extremism may have a negative impact on children, including living where weapons are stored.  If professionals feel these children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm they should discuss with their safeguarding lead or the Duty and Advice team.

The flowchart below (appendix 1) outlines the process to be undertaken when making a referral.

 

8. Training

There are a range of training packages available that assist in developing a better understanding of Prevent and Channel.  The local authority’s Prevent Team can deliver a range of training sessions that will develop staff confidence in tackling Prevent related issues. In addition, there are a number of online Prevent training packages.  These can be found below:

https://www.elearning.prevent.homeoffice.gov.uk

Further face to face training is also offered by the LCSP and can be found on our website

Further resources on Prevent can also be found on the Educate Against Hate website


9. Concerns about Adults and Professionals

Prevent works with people of all ages and all backgrounds.  If you have concerns about an adult or professional in relation to radicalisation, please refer to existing procedures such as the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) procedure or the Adults Safeguarding Board.


10. Further Information

If you are interested in finding out more about Prevent and to discuss any training needs for your organisation please contact Leeds City Council’s Prevent Team at Prevent@leeds.gov.uk.

 

Appendix 1. Summary of procedures to follow where there are potential radicalisation concerns about a child/member of staff