Supporting Children and Young People Vulnerable to Violent Extremism
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter is based on and summarises the document 'Prevent and Safeguarding Guidance: Supporting Individuals Vulnerable to Violent Extremism', which was issued by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).
The guidance provides advice on how to manage and respond to concerns of children and young people identified as being vulnerable to and affected by the radicalisation of others.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in April 2022 as part of general refresh, to include links to local contacts in Section 4, Local Support and signpost to the relevant PREVENT referral form.
Radicalisation is defined as the process by which people come to support terrorism and violent extremism and, in some cases, to then participate in terrorist groups.
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.
Three main areas of concern have been identified for initial attention in developing the awareness and understanding of how to recognise and respond to the increasing threat of children/young people being radicalised:
- Increasing understanding of radicalisation and the various forms it might take, thereby enhancing the skills and abilities to recognise signs and indicators amongst all staff working with children and young people;
- Identifying a range of interventions - universal, targeted and specialist - and the expertise to apply these proportionately and appropriately;
- Taking appropriate measures to safeguard the wellbeing of children living with or in direct contact with known extremists.
2. National Guidance and Strategies
The following are part of the government's counter terrorist strategy, referred to as CONTEST.
The expectation is that within all local authority areas a Prevent multi-agency partnership board is established to plan and manage responses. Lincolnshire has a multi-agency Prevent Steering Group that meets quarterly. Children's Services should be involved and participate in the Area Partnership Board for Prevent and kept informed of the particular risks in their area.
The Channel programme is an initiative led by the Home Office, responsibility lies with the Local Authority and administration is assigned to the Police. It operates in areas identified as having higher levels of risk, to provide support to those at risk of being drawn into violent extremism. The guidance identifies as good practice the importance of having:
- A clear referral process incorporating a multi-agency panel;
- An identified co-ordinator or location of expertise for advice, guidance and support;
- Information sharing protocols.
If an agency makes a Channel referral then they also need to complete an Early Help Assessment.
If an agency becomes aware of a British family returning from the conflict in Syria then they must inform Police via email@example.com and the Customer Service Centre (01522 782111), so that existing referral pathways are preserved.
3. Referral and Intervention Processes
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) guidance provides a model referral process for children and young people who are vulnerable to radicalisation and/or who may be at risk through living with or being in direct contact with known extremists.
Staff working with children should use this model to assist them in identifying and responding to concerns about children who may be vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremist activity.
Any member of staff who identifies such concerns, for example as a result of observed behaviour or reports of conversations to suggest the child supports terrorism and/or violent extremism, must report these concerns to the named or designated safeguarding professional in their organisation or agency, who will consider what further action is required. See also Section 5, Understanding and Recognising Risks and Vulnerabilities of Radicalisation.
As set out in the flowchart, the named or designated professional must discuss any such concerns with the local police. After consultation with the police and in light of any further information gathered about the child and the family, if it is considered there are grounds for further involvement, a multi-agency assessment meeting (usually involving the child, parents and relevant professionals) should be convened to determine the appropriate response and how this should be delivered.
The aim is to ensure an early identification of children's vulnerabilities and promote a coordinated response, wherever possible within universal provision (Tier 1) or through targeted interventions (Tier 2) and the TAC process. The emphasis should be on supporting vulnerable children and young people, rather than informing on or "spotting" those with radical or extreme views.
The Model Flowchart which has been reproduced from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Guidance gives examples of the range of responses where concerns of radicalisation have been identified.
In exceptional cases, it may be considered that a child or young person is involved or potentially involved in supporting or pursuing extremist behaviour. This may be, for example, where the child is part of a family with known extremists (e.g. people who are currently subject to criminal proceedings or who have been convicted of terrorism related offences.) Where this is the case, a referral must be made to Children's Social Care Services under the Safeguarding Referrals Procedure and the police must be informed. Further investigation by the police will be required, prior to other assessments and interventions.
While the nature of the risk may raise security issues, the process should not be seen as different from dealing with the likelihood of Significant Harm or vulnerability due to the exposure to other influences.
Consideration should be given to the possibility that sharing information about the concerns with the parents may increase the risk to the child and therefore may not be appropriate at the referral stage.
Consideration should also be given to the need for an emergency response - this will be extremely rare but examples are where there is information that a violent act is imminent or where weapons or other materials may be in the possession of a young person or member of his or her family. In this situation a 999 call must be made.
Where there is involvement as a result of the concerns, any provision of services should be subject to regular reviews until it is deemed appropriate to end the agreed response.
4. Local Support
Locally, the following organisations are able to provide additional advice and guidance in relation to safeguarding individuals vulnerable to radicalisation and children who may be at risk through living with or being in direct contact with known extremists:
5. Understanding and Recognising Risks and Vulnerabilities of Radicalisation
Children and young people can be drawn into violence or they can be exposed to the messages of extremist groups by many means.
These can include through the influence of family members or friends and/or direct contact with extremist groups and organisations or, increasingly, through the internet. This can put a young person at risk of being drawn into criminal activity and has the potential to cause Significant Harm.
The risk of radicalisation is the product of a number of factors and identifying this risk requires that staff exercise their professional judgement, seeking further advice as necessary. It may be combined with other vulnerabilities or may be the only risk identified.
Potential indicators include:
- Use of inappropriate language;
- Possession of violent extremist literature;
- Behavioural changes;
- The expression of extremist views;
- Advocating violent actions and means;
- Association with known extremists;
- Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.