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

The Prevent programme in West Sussex 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.

Violent extremism can be a threat anywhere - any individual or community can be drawn to extremist views and violent aims if something about their circumstances makes them susceptible.

Like many other parts of the UK, Sussex has seen people arrested for their involvement in terrorist activity, promoting banned terrorist groups and for travelling to other countries to join terrorist organisations. We have seen stickering, leafleting and graffiti that promote extreme, divisive narratives and views that support extremist activity. Like any part of the UK, people in Sussex have engaged with and been influenced by harmful online extremist communities and narratives.

To safeguard people susceptible to radicalisation from being exploited by extremists, a referral can be made into the West Sussex 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 or who are already engaging with extremism and terrorism in all their forms. It provides a support package tailored to the individual’s needs - further information can be found below:

5 Reporting concerns

If you become aware of anyone you feel is vulnerable to radicalisation, suspect someone is being radicalised or encouraged to support terrorism please share these concerns. Also, please share your concerns if you are experiencing pressure from others about supporting extremism or terrorism.

You can call the ACT Early support line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, to share your concerns with specially trained officers, or visit the ACT Early website.

By talking to someone in confidence, you can get support for that person - which could prevent them doing something that could harm themselves or others.

Advice in West Sussex

Sussex Police Prevent Team can also provide advice, support and explain how to make any referrals that may be appropriate.

Sussex Police Prevent Team

Reporting terrorism

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)

6 Further information and reading

Key Government information

Information about online radicalisation

Resources for young people

  • Your Space - Information for younger people about radicalisation and extremism.
  • Family Lives - Advice if you are worried your teen is at risk of extremism or radicalisation.
  • Extreme Dialogue - Aims to reduce the appeal of extremism among young people and offer a positive alternative to extremist material and propaganda.
  • Educate against hate - Gives parents and school staff practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
  • Be Internet Citizens - Be Internet Citizens has been designed to teach teenagers about media literacy, critical thinking and digital citizenship, with the aim of encouraging young people to have a positive voice online.
  • NSPCC - Radicalisation - Support, training and resources to help fight 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.
  • SWGfL - How to protect children from online extremism.
  • Since 9/11 - Resources to support discussions with young people.

Relevant resources

Supporting documents

Last updated:
1 May 2024
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