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, or, 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 or supporting terrorism or extremism.
Prevent does not aim to criminalise people for holding views; instead, it seeks to stop individuals from going to the extreme of committing or encouraging violent activity.
To safeguard against vulnerable people being radicalised, a referral can be made into the Channel process. Channel is a national initiative but 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 and the GOV.UK websites.
5 Reporting concerns
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 regarding this, any of the following can provide advice and support.
Sussex Police Prevent Team
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: To talk to the Prevent Co-ordinator or the Prevent Officers call 101 and ask for the Prevent Team
West Sussex County Council
- Email: email@example.com - Beverly Knight, Team Manager, Vulnerable Individuals, Community Safety and Wellbeing
Crawley Borough Council
- Phone: 01293 438000 - To talk to the Crawley Prevent co-ordinator call Crawley Borough Council and ask for the Prevent Team.
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.
7 Further information and reading
- Extreme Dialogue - Aims to reduce the appeal of extremism among young people and offer a positive alternative to extremist material and propaganda.
- Far Right Extremism in Europe (FREE) Initiative - An online resource for practitioners responding to far-right extremism and violence.
- 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.
- GOV.UK - Information about the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015