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5.4.5 Safeguarding Children and Young People Vulnerable to Violent Extremism

RELATED INFORMATION

The DfE has launched a helpline for anyone concerned about a child who may be at risk of extremism, or about extremism within an organisation working with children and young people.

Email: counter.extremism@education.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 7340 7264

However, it is advised that the LA safeguarding lead is also contacted for local advice and support in such circumstances.

Briefing Note For Schools - How Social Media is Used to Encourage Travel to Syria and Iraq

Educate Against Hate website - This website gives parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2020. Changes were made in line with local practice in Section 6, Referral and Section 7, Assessment.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Legislative and Policy Framework
  4. Information Sharing and Confidentiality
  5. Identification
  6. Referral
  7. Assessment

    Appendix 1: Roles and Responsibilities of the Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

    Appendix 2: Channel

    Appendix 3: Additional Assessment Considerations

    Appendix 4: National Prevent Referral Forms

    Appendix 5: Local Prevent Contacts - Advice and Guidance


1. Introduction

From 1 July 2015 all schools and child care providers must have regard to the statutory guidance issued under Section 29 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Paragraphs 57-76 of the guidance are concerned specifically with schools and childcare providers; registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers are subject to a duty under Section 26 of the counter Terrorism and Security Action 2015, in the exercise of their functions to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. This duty is known as the Prevent duty. It applies to a wide range of public-facing bodies which are listed in schedule 6 of the Act as specified authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. The specified authorities are those judged to have a role of protection vulnerable children, young people and adults and/or the national security. The Prevent Strategy, published by the Government in 2011, is part of an overall counter terrorism strategy called CONTEST. The aim of the Prevent Strategy is to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. In addition, the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 Sections 36 to 41 sets out the duty on local authorities and partners to establish and cooperate with a local Channel programme of ‘Channel Panels’ to provide support for people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It is essential that Channel Panel members and their partners ensure that children and young people are protected from harm.

The current threat from terrorism in the United Kingdom can involve the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children, young people and vulnerable adults to involve them in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism.

The 10 Greater Manchester local authorities and Greater Manchester Police, agree that this exploitation should be viewed as a safeguarding concern and should be approached in the same way as safeguarding children from other risks.

This guidance is intended to provide a clear framework for all professionals working with children for whom there are concerns that they are at risk of becoming involved in violent extremist activity.

It includes the link between safeguarding procedures and the Channel programme, and provides a mechanism for supporting those who may be vulnerable to violent extremism by assessing the nature and the extent of the potential risk and, where necessary, providing an appropriate support package.


2. Definitions

Violent Extremism is defined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as:

"The demonstration of unacceptable behaviour by using any means or medium to express views, which:

  • Encourage, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs;
  • Seek to provoke others to terrorist acts;
  • Encourage other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts;
  • Foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK."

There are a number of offences that can be considered when dealing with violent extremism. They include offences arising through spoken words, creation of tapes and videos of speeches, internet entries, chanting, banners and written notes and publications.

The main offences employed to date have been soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

The Greater Manchester Safeguarding Children Partnerships recognise the government position that Violent Extremism inspired by an Al Qaeda ideology, which advocates a distorted version of Islam, is considered to be the greater threat to the UK by the security services. However, they also seek to protect children and young people against the messages of all violent extremism including that linked to a Far Right / Neo Nazi / White Supremacist ideology, Irish Nationalist and Loyalist paramilitary groups, and that linked to Animal Rights movements.


3. Legislative and Policy Framework

The following legislation and policies have provided the framework for this safeguarding protocol:

  • Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015;
  • The Children Act 1989; as revised by the Children Act 2004;
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children;
  • Channel: Supporting individuals vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremists: A Guide for Local Partnerships, HM Government with Association of Chief Police Officers, 2010;
  • The revised national CONTEST (Counter-Terrorism) Strategy 2011;
  • Recognising and responding to radicalisation. Considerations for policy and practice through the eyes of street level workers. (Recora Institute)


4. Information Sharing and Confidentiality

There is a statutory duty for workers to share information where there are concerns about the safety or well being of a child or vulnerable adult. Protecting children and young people from radicalisation and extremism requires careful assessment and working collaboratively across agencies as initially concerns may be inconclusive. Sharing information effectively and keeping the child and young person in focus should be the main aim of any interventions and services.

  • The Data Protection Act 2018;
  • The Human Rights Act 1998;
  • The Common Law Duty of Confidence;
  • The Crime and Disorder Act 1998;
  • The Children Act 2004 Sections 10 and 11;
  • The Caldicott Principles.

All information sharing must be conducted in accordance with a relevant legal power of duty, and be proportionate and relevant to the circumstances presented.

For further detailed guidance see Data Protection, Information Sharing and Confidentiality Policy.


5. Identification

There is no such thing as a 'typical extremist' and those involved in extremism come from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

Most individuals, even those who hold radical views, do not become involved in violent extremism. Holding extreme views is not illegal, but inciting a person to commit an act in the name of any belief is in itself an offence.

Numerous factors can contribute to and influence the range of behaviours that are defined as violent extremism. It is important to consider these factors in order to develop an understanding of the issue. It is also necessary to understand those factors that build resilience and protect individuals from engaging in violent extremist activity.

It is important to be cautious in assessing these factors to avoid inappropriately labelling or stigmatising individuals because they possess a characteristic or fit a specific profile.

It is vital that all professionals who have contact with vulnerable individuals are able to recognise those vulnerabilities and help to increase safe choices and remember that violent behaviour operates on many levels in the absence of protective factors and that individuals largely act within the context of their environment and experiences.

Research shows that indicators that may make an individual vulnerable to radicalisation 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 civic life;
  • Criminality - Experiences of imprisonment; poor resettlement/reintegration; previous involvement with criminal groups.

However, this list is not exhaustive, nor does it mean that all young people experiencing the above are at risk of exploitation for the purposes of violent extremism.

More critical risk factors could include:

  • Being in contact with known extremists or extremist recruiters;
  • Articulating support for violent extremist causes or leaders;
  • Accessing violent extremist websites, especially those with a social networking element;
  • Possessing or accessing violent extremist literature;
  • Using inappropriate language, extremist narratives and a global ideology to explain personal disadvantage;
  • Justifying the use of violence to solve societal issues;
  • Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations;
  • Seeking to recruit others into extremist ideology;
  • Significant changes to appearance and/or behaviour;
  • Changes in friends and mode of dress.


6. Referral

Each agency will have been asked to identify a Prevent Single Point of Contact (SPOC) who will be the lead within the organisation for safeguarding in relation to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism. Appendix 1: Roles and Responsibilities of the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) sets out the responsibilities of the SPOC.

As with other safeguarding issues, where a professional has any concerns that a person or their family may be at risk of radicalisation or involvement in terrorism, they should speak with the organisation's safeguarding lead and the SPOC if this is not the same person. The SPOC should offer advice and guidance about the appropriateness of making a Prevent referral.

If, at any stage, it is felt that the individual poses an immediate danger to themselves or any other person, the police should be called immediately.

If the Safeguarding Lead / Prevent SPOC consider that the concerns relating to an individual are more significant, a Prevent Referral should be made using the National Prevent Referral form for the area in which the individual resides (see Appendix 4: National Prevent Referral Forms).

All prevent referrals should be sent to:

Suspected online terrorist material can be reported through www.gov.uk/report-terrorism. Reports can be made anonymously, although practitioners should not do so as they must follow the procedures for professionals. Content of concern can also be reported directly to social media platforms – see Social media help (UK Safer Internet Centre).


7. Assessment

Once the Prevent referral form has been completed, it will carry an Official Sensitive protective marking, which means that the information will need to be handled with risk appropriate security measures. Once a Prevent referral has been received by the three agencies set out on the top of the referral form, the Local Authority will assess if there are any immediate safeguarding concerns for the individual whilst Counter Terrorism Policing North West will assess whether there is any concerns of radicalisation. There are three potential outcomes for a referral they are:

  • Closed no further action – referrer will be informed and the case will be signposted if necessary;
  • Counter Terrorism Policing North West (CTPNW) will manage the concerns raised;
  • Referral to Channel – for consideration of multi-agency support. The referrer will be contacted as part of the assessment process by the Channel Coordinator.

If a case has been assessed as needing further support, CTPNW will refer the case to the Greater Manchester Channel Team who will gather information from a number of agencies and undertake an initial Vulnerability Assessment to assess the vulnerability to radicalisation. The Vulnerability Assessment Framework (VAF) guides the decision about whether an individual needs support to safeguard them from the risk of being targeted by terrorists and radicalisers and to address their vulnerability to radicalisation by assessing the kind of support that they need. The framework covers 22 factors that may cause someone to engage with a terrorist group, cause or ideology, develop the intent to cause harm or develop the capability to cause harm.

An initial VAF is completed by the Channel Coordinator within 20 days of the referral to the Greater Manchester Channel Team which will be shared with the Channel Panel. The VAF assists the Channel Supervisor in conjunction with the Channel Coordinator to make the Section 36 decision to confirm whether it is appropriate to proceed with the referral to the Channel Panel.

Once a case is open to Channel the VAF is reviewed at least every three months and updated to record any changes until it is agreed that the case will close by the Channel Panel.

See Appendix 2: Channel for information about the Channel Process.

Most children and young people do not become involved in violent extremism. Numerous factors can contribute to and influence the range of behaviours that are defined as violent extremism. Therefore, in many cases interventions identified through the Channel process may not appear to be specific to the threat of radicalisation. For example, they might relate to other needs of the individual such as in respect of mental health support, housing, relationships, offending behaviour or drug and alcohol issues. There may however sometimes be a need for specialist interventions in relation to de-radicalisation and disengagement. These will be commissioned as required. See Appendix 3: Additional Assessment Considerations.


Appendix 1: Roles and Responsibilities of the Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

As the SPOC for your organisation you will be responsible for:

  • Ensuring that other staff in the organisation are aware that you are the SPOC in relation to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism;
  • Maintaining and applying a good understanding of the relevant guidance in relation to preventing individuals from becoming involved in terrorism, and protecting them from radicalisation by those who support terrorism or forms of extremism which lead to terrorism;
  • Raising awareness about the role and responsibilities of the organisation in relation to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism;
  • Raising awareness within the organisation about the safeguarding processes relating to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism;
  • Acting as the first point of contact within the organisation for case discussions relating to individuals who may be at risk of radicalisation or involved in terrorism;
  • Making Prevent referrals for individuals at risk using the National Prevent Referral form for the relevant Local Authority area (see Appendix 4: National Prevent Referral Forms);
  • Collating relevant information from your organisation in relation to referrals of vulnerable children and young people or adults into the Channel process;
  • Attending Channel meetings as necessary and carrying out any actions as agreed;
  • Reporting progress on actions to the local authority Channel Co-ordinator; and
  • Sharing any relevant additional information in a timely manner.


Appendix 2: Channel

‘Channel’ is a voluntary, confidential programme which provides support to people who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It operates across the country through Local Authority-chaired multi-agency panels, and is not any form of criminal or civil sanction. The aim of the programme is to safeguard people from the harm which radicalisation can cause, before they come to harm or become involved in any criminal behaviour or activity.

It works to support vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism and provides a bespoke support plan for them. Channel is about early action to protect vulnerable people from being drawn into committing terrorist-related activity and addresses all types of extremism.

Participation in Channel is voluntary and consent is sought from every person before support is offered. It is up to an individual, or their parents for children aged 16 and under, to decide whether to take up the support it offers. Channel does not lead to a criminal record.

The Channel Panel

Each Channel Panel is chaired by a Local Authority and brings together a range of multi-agency partners to collectively assess the risk and decide whether a support package is needed. The group may include statutory and non-statutory partners, as well as lead safeguarding professionals who have signed up to an information sharing protocol and attend a monthly panel meeting.

If the group feels the person would be suitable for Channel, it will look to develop a package of support that is bespoke to the person. The partnership approach ensures those with specific knowledge and expertise around the vulnerabilities of those at risk are able to work together to provide the best support which could range from diversionary activities through to providing access to specific statutory services.

The Greater Manchester Channel Team operates across 10 Greater Manchester Local Authorities and each LA area holds the statutory duty to run a Channel panel.

The panels are chaired by an appropriately senior member of the LA who have authority to make decisions on behalf of their authority.

Further Channel guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website and Let’s Talk about It.

It is known that violent extremists exploit vulnerabilities in individuals to drive a wedge between them, their families and their communities. Refer to the Considerations below in Appendix 3: Additional Assessment Considerations when deciding whether to refer to Channel.

As a minimum there must be information evidencing a concern that the individual is either moving towards support for terrorism, or an attraction to terrorism or a vulnerability to radicalisation.

For advice and guidance on making a referral please contact the Counter Terrorism Policing Team North West (CTPNW).

CTPNW is based at GMP Headquarters within the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit.

The telephone contact number for the Channel Team is 0161 856 6362.

The e-mail address for CTPNW is channel.project@gmp.police.uk.

For information relating to cases open to Channel, please contact the Greater Manchester Channel Team.

The Greater Manchester Channel Team are hosted by Manchester City Council.

The telephone contact number is 0161 227 3545.

The e-mail address is gmchannel@manchester.gov.uk.


Appendix 3: Additional Assessment Considerations

(To be considered against unique personal circumstances of referred individual).

The list is not exhaustive and all or none may be present in individual cases of concern. Nor does it mean that vulnerable people experiencing these factors are automatically at risk of exploitation for the purposes of violent extremism.

Section 1 - Access to Extremism / Extremist Influences

  • Is there reason to believe that the subject associates with those known to be involved in extremism - either because they associate directly with known individuals or because they frequent key locations where these individuals are known to operate? (e.g. the subject is the partner, spouse, friend or family member of someone believed to be linked with extremist activity);
  • Does the subject frequent internet access locations for the purpose of extremist activity? (E.g. Use of closed network groups, access to or distribution of extremist material, contact associates covertly e.g. Skype/email);
  • Is there reason to believe that the subject has been or is likely to be involved with extremist/ military training camps/ locations?
  • Is the subject known to have possessed or is actively seeking to possess and/ or distribute extremist literature / other media material likely to incite racial/religious hatred or acts of violence?
  • Does the subject sympathise with or support proscribed groups e.g. propaganda distribution, fundraising and attendance at meetings?
  • Does the subject support groups with links to extremist activity but not proscribed e.g. propaganda distribution, fundraising and attendance at meetings?

Section 2 - Experiences, Behaviours and Influences

  • Has the subject encountered peer, social, family or faith group rejection?
  • Is there evidence of ideological, political or religious influence on the subject from within or outside UK?
  • Have international events in areas of conflict and civil unrest had a personal impact on the subject resulting in a noticeable change in behaviour? Note it is important to recognise that many people may be emotionally affected by the plight of what is happening in areas of conflict (i.e. images of children dying) it is important to differentiate them from subjects that sympathise with or support extremist activity;
  • Has there been a significant shift in the subject's behaviour or outward appearance that suggests a new social / political or religious influence?
  • Has the subject come into conflict with family over religious beliefs/lifestyle choices?
  • Does the subject vocally support terrorist attacks?
  • Has the subject witnessed or been the perpetrator/victim of racial or religious hate crime or sectarianism?

Section 3 - Travel

  • Has the subject travelled for extended periods of time to international locations known to be associated with extremism?
  • Is there a pattern of regular or extended travel within the UK, with other evidence to suggest this is for purposes of extremist training or activity?
  • Has the subject employed any methods to disguise their true identity? Has the subject used documents or cover to support this?

Section 4 - Social Factors

  • Does the subject have experience of poverty, disadvantage, discrimination or social exclusion?
  • Does the subject suffer a lack of meaningful employment appropriate to their skills?
  • Does the subject display a lack of affinity or understanding for others, or social isolation from peer groups?
  • Does the subject demonstrate identity conflict and confusion normally associated with youth development?
  • Does the subject have any learning difficulties/ mental health support needs?
  • Does the subject demonstrate a simplistic or erroneous understanding of religion or politics?
  • Does the subject have a history of crime, including episodes in prison?
  • Is the subject a foreign national, refugee or awaiting a decision on their immigration/national status?
  • Does the subject have insecure, conflicted or absent family relationships?
  • Has the subject experienced any trauma in their lives, particularly any trauma associated with war or sectarian conflict?


Appendix 4: National Prevent Referral Forms

Bolton

Bury

Manchester

Oldham

Rochdale

Salford

Stockport

Tameside

Trafford

Wigan


Appendix 5: Local Prevent Contacts - Advice and Guidance

See Local Contacts, Children and Young People Vulnerable to Violent Extremism – Local Prevent Contacts – Advice and Guidance.

End