Preventing extremism and radicalisation

How to reduce the risk of extremism and radicalisation within West Sussex.

1 Extremism and radicalisation

What is extremism?

Extremism, in a political or religious sense, is used to describe an ideology that is considered by most people to be far outside acceptable, mainstream attitudes of society.

What is radicalisation?

Radicalisation is the process by which an individual or group adopts extreme political, social or religious views. People can ‘self-radicalise’, by reading or listening to extremist literature or speakers. More commonly, there may be an individual or group actively seeking to persuade others to adopt their views. This process of persuasion or coercion is known as radicalisation.

If a person or group decides that fear, terror and violence are justified to try to achieve radical ideological, political or social change, and then acts accordingly, this may be considered violent extremism or terrorism.

2 Factors that can lead to radicalisation

There are no typical indicators of what the radicalisation process looks like. It will be different for each person depending on various factors. Often radicalisation occurs when individuals’ vulnerabilities are exploited.

Both adults and children can become vulnerable or susceptible to radicalisation for many different reasons, including:

  • a sense of social isolation
  • low self esteem
  • feeling rejected by their peers, faith, social group or family
  • pressure from peers associated with extremism
  • being a victim or witness to hate crime/incidents or bullying
  • conflict with family or friends over views on society or possibly interpretation of faith
  • conflict with family or friends over lifestyle choices/extreme political views
  • identity confusion
  • an event or series of traumatic events – personal, national or global
  • a feeling that an element of their identity is under threat or treated unjustly.

3 Spotting the signs of radicalisation

Signs that someone is being radicalised may be (but are not limited to):

  • isolation/withdrawal from family/friends
  • obsession with and secrecy around the internet/social networking sites 
  • becoming uncooperative/disengaged
  • using abusive/aggressive/extremist views/comments/ threats/language
  • fascination/fixation with weapons/chemicals/explosives/extremist activity/events
  • significant changes in relationships
  • the use of seemingly scripted speech
  • change in behaviour or appearance due to new influences
  • seeking to recruit/‘groom’ others to an extremist ideology
  • possession of violent extremist literature.

4 The Prevent strategy

Prevent is in place to safeguard individuals and communities from the threat of radicalisation, extremism and terrorism. This relates to all forms of extremism and terrorism and can include groups that advocate racial or religious hatred and violence, jihadist groups or extreme animal rights groups.

Prevent focuses on early intervention before any illegal activity takes place. The aim is to stop people becoming involved with or supporting terrorism or extremism.

Prevent does not aim to criminalise people for holding views; it seeks to stop individuals from going to the extreme of committing or encouraging violent activity.

To safeguard vulnerable people from being radicalised, a referral can be made into the Channel process. Channel is a national initiative that operates on a local basis.

Channel is a voluntary process that has been developed to provide support to people at risk of being drawn towards extremism and terrorism in all their forms. It provides a support package tailored to the individual’s needs - further information can be found on the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board website and in the Prevent duty guidance on GOV.UK.

5 Reporting concerns

We can all act on our instincts to help tackle the terrorist threat. You shouldn’t be concerned about wasting police time or getting someone into trouble. If you are concerned that something doesn't seem right, don’t worry, don’t delay, just act.

Report suspected terrorism (GOV.UK) (external link)

Local help

If you become aware of an individual you feel is vulnerable to radicalisation, suspect someone is being radicalised or encouraged to support terrorism, or you are experiencing pressure from others about this, any of the following can provide advice and support.

Sussex Police Prevent Team

West Sussex County Council

Crawley Borough Council

6 Where to get advice and support

  • Families against stress and trauma - Provides support to vulnerable families and individuals whose lives have been affected by the trauma of losing loved ones to hateful ideologies and groups. 
  • Educate against hate - Gives parents and school staff practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
  • Internet Matters - Radicalisation - Advice on helping to prevent children becoming radicalised online.
  • NSPCC - Radicalisation - Support, training and resources to help fight radicalisation.
  • Sussex Police - Advice and contact details regarding the Prevent agenda and terrorism.
  • MI5 - MI5 webpages offering guidance and advice on what to do if you are concerned about terrorist activity.
  • Your Space - Information for younger people about radicalisation and extremism.

7 Further information and reading

  • ACT Early - A new initiative which tells you what to look out for and what to do if you’re worried about someone close to you expressing extreme views or hatred which could lead to them harming themselves or others.
  • Educate against Hate - Government advice and trusted resources for schools to safeguard students from radicalisation, build resilience to all types of extremism and promote shared values.
  • Extreme Dialogue - Aims to reduce the appeal of extremism among young people and offer a positive alternative to extremist material and propaganda.
  • GOV.UK - Information about the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
  • Hope not hate - Includes lots of up to date information and research on extreme movements.
  • International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence - Range of research aimed at educating in order to find solutions in dealing with radicalisation and political violence.
  • ISD digital curriculum - Be Internet Citizens is a series of resources created for teenagers by Google and YouTube to explore media literacy, critical thinking and digital citizenship.
  • Jan Trust - Supports and educates young people on the threats posed by online radicalisation.
  • Let’s Talk About It - A range of helpful resources and information about Prevent and radicalisation.
  • NSPCC - Key information and advice about protecting young people from radicalisation.
  • Parentzone - A number of free resources for young people, such as ‘ Be Internet Legends’, which is aimed at exploring online safety with 7-11 year olds.
  • Tony Blair Institute for Global Change - Free resources on radicalisation and how to engage with young people about sensitive topics.

Supporting documents

  • Parental guidance booklet - Safeguarding young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions from extremist ideologies (PDF, 7MB) - This guidance booklet provides key information and guidance to those parents with young people who have an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), around safeguarding them from extremist ideologies. The objective of this resource is to equip parents with the confidence and effective strategies to have meaningful conversations with and develop the resilience of young people going forwards. Consequently, they will hopefully be able to effectively recognise and counter extremist points of view.
  • Parental toolkit - Safeguarding young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions from extremist ideologies (PDF, 11MB) - To be used alongside the guidance booklet, this is a ‘Toolkit’ of practical resources and templates that parents can use with their young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions to encourage awareness and critical thinking skills around key themes related to radicalisation and extremism. The aim is to foster transferable life skills that a young person with an ASC can draw upon in future to build personal resilience to any concerning images, beliefs or people that may lead that young person into harm.
Last updated:
26 January 2022
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