6.31 Safeguarding Children and Young People against Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

6.31 Safeguarding Children and Young People against Radicalisation and Violent Extremism


  1. Introduction
  2. National Guidance and Strategies
  3. Referral and Intervention Processes
  4. Local Support
  5. Understanding and Recognising Risks and Vulnerabilities of Radicalisation Further Information
  6. Channel Panel Referral and Assessment Form
  7. Report Online Material Promoting Terrorism or Extremism
  8. Further Information



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.
  1. National Guidance and Strategies

The following are part of the government’s counter terrorist strategy, referred to as CONTEST.

The Prevent Strategy: A Guide for Local Partners in England. Stopping People becoming or Supporting Terrorists and Violent Extremists

The expectation is that within all local authority areas a Prevent multi-agency partnership board is established to plan and manage responses. 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.

Click here to view The Prevent Strategy: A Guide for Local Partners in England.

Click here to view RecoRa website (log in required)

Channel: Protecting vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism: A guide for local partnerships (October 2012)

Click here to view Channel Duty Guidance: Protecting vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism: Statutory guidance for Channel panel members and partners of local panels (2015).

The Channel programme is an initiative led by the Police and 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.
  1. Referral and Intervention Processes

The NPCC guidance (NPCC Channel 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 below: 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 Early Help Assessment 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 NPCC guidance (NPCC Channel Guidance) includes detailed information about the Channel process, vulnerability indicators and identifying vulnerable people, screen of referrals and assessment.

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 Specialist Services under the Contacts and Referrals Procedure and the police must be informed. Further investigation by the police will be required, prior to other assessments and interventions.

Where agencies have concerns a young person may have been radicalised or is at risk of being radicalised a referral can be made into the multi-agency Channel Panel where the case will be considered and advice given.

Making a referral into the Channel Panel does not replace usual safeguarding reporting procedures which must always be used if you believe a child, young person or adult is at risk of harm, abuse or Neglect.

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 – see Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure.

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.

Reporting online material, which promotes extremism such as illegal or harmful pictures or videos, can be done through to the government website ‘Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism. Although professionals should follow the Contacts and Referrals Procedure, non professionals may make a report anonymously.

  1. Local Support

The Merseyside Police contact for Wirral is Sgt Martin Leyland: [email protected]

The Channel leads for the Local Authority are Anthony Kirk and Kathy Gill,  [email protected] – [email protected] 

To make a referral into the Wirral Channel panel professionals should use the Channel Panel Referral and Assessment form which can be accessed here:

Channel-Panel-Referral-and-Assessment-Form (1)

Please note that referral into the Channel Panel does not replace usual safeguarding reporting procedures which must always be used if you believe a child, young person or adult is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect.

  1. 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.

These can include:

  • Identity Crisis – Distance from cultural / religious heritage and uncomfortable with their place in the society around them;
  • Personal Crisis – Family tensions; sense of isolation; adolescence; low self-esteem; disassociating from existing friendship group and becoming involved with a new and different group of friends; searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging;
  • Personal Circumstances – Migration; local community tensions; events affecting country or region of origin; alienation from UK values; having a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of Government policy;
  • Unmet aspirations – Perceptions of injustice; feeling of failure; rejection of community values;
  • Criminality – Experiences of imprisonment; previous involvement with criminal groups.

However those closest to the individual may first notice the following changes of behaviour:

  • General changes of mood, patterns of behaviour, secrecy;
  • Changes of friends and mode of dress;
  • Use of inappropriate language;
  • Possession of violent extremist literature;
  • The expression of extremist views;
  • Advocating violent actions and means;
  • Association with known extremists;
  • Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.

There an obvious difference between espousing radical and extreme views and acting on them and practitioners should ensure that assessments place behaviour in the family and social context of the young person and include information about the young person’s peer group and conduct and behaviour at school. Holding radical or extreme views is not illegal, but inciting a person to commit an act in the name of any belief is in itself an offence.

6. Channel Panel Referral and Assessment Form

Referrals to the Channel Panel should be made on the form below:

Channel-Panel-Referral-and-Assessment-Form (1)

7. Report Online Material Promoting Terrorism or Extremism

The Home Office has an online portal for professionals and members of the public to report online material which promotes terrorism or extremism. The portal can be accessed here: https://www.report-terrorist-material.homeoffice.gov.uk/report

8. Further Information

Prevent Strategy

Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales

Channel Duty Guidance: Protection vulnerable people from being draw into terrorism

ADCS resources Radicalisation and Extremism

Educate Against Hate




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