How does radicalisation take place?
Any individual, any age, gender, socio-economic status, or religious belief could be vulnerable to radicalisation towards extremists. Individuals who engage in acts of terrorism often are influenced to do so and there are often other people involved, these people access those that are deemed as vulnerable through family members, friends, places of worship, schools, works, unsupervised social areas, meeting places and the internet.
For vulnerable people, violent extremist groups can be attractive to the individual. They feel they’ve found a place with a sense of belonging, empowerment, adventure, it almost can feel like a new family.
Since social media has become more popular and new social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat have being introduced, it has become one of the biggest influences of terrorism in the UK and abroad. Terrorist organisations can recruit and radicalise people in the UK and the rest of the world. Often terrorist groups will use propaganda to influence people.
The warning signs of radicalisation
There are signs that people can look out for indicate a person is being radicalised or is at risk. It is important to notice these signs and help to prevent the person from acting on their radicalisation:
- Low self esteem
- Lack of self-identity
- Lack of belonging
- Mental health issues
- Drugs and alcohol
- Upheaval in the family home
- Loss of a family member in a war abroad
These are all examples of situations that can leave a person vulnerable. People who work around children and teenagers need to look out for these signs, if you are concerned someone is being radicalised or is at risk you should refer them to your local prevent team.
There are many protective factors that can prevent a person being drawn into supporting and following terrorist views and activities. These factors should be encouraged as they will reduce the risks of radicalisation and ensure that people are kept safe.
Examples of protective factors include:
- Secure family and emotional attachment
- A secure understanding of religion
- Safe places they can go to discuss radicalisation
- Mental health support
- A sense of belonging.
What do extremists offer?
Violent extremist groups can be an appealing offer to people that are vulnerable. Often the people trying to radicalise others will target individuals that seem vunlerable, as they find it is easier to change their views.
These groups offer them:
- A sense of belonging
- Extremist groups offer vulnerable people an image of success
- They present their state as one where Muslims will find belonging and gain status
- They may tell them that it is their moral duty to join their ’cause’.
How can you report a Prevent concern?
For any professional that has concerns about an individual, they should refer them to their local Prevent team, this team may be within the local safeguarding team or Police.
There is also an Anti-Terrorist hotline on 0800 789321 that they can call, however if it is an emergency, they should always call 999. An emergency could be in an event where the professional has reason to believe that the individual is at imminent risk of carrying out a terrorist attack or traveling abroad to pursue terrorist acts.
When an individual is referred to the Prevent team, they can then carry out a vulnerability assessment. This could be through an interview with the individual, or through the information they know that has been shared by the referrer.