As we all continue to adapt to the changes brought on by Covid-19, police are asking that people pay attention to changes in behaviour of those they love and act early if they see signs of radicalisation.
Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extreme ideologies, often through grooming. The Home Office’s Prevent programme aims to avoid this happening.
Specially trained police Prevent officers, alongside professionals in health, education, local authorities and charities, as well as faith and community groups, seek to help vulnerable people move away from extremism. Together they put the right package of support in place to help them find a new direction.
The new ActEarly.uk website aims to explain the process, share people’s experiences and highlight the signs to look out for, in a bid to encourage more referrals from the community.
Between January 2019 and June 2020, 17 children were arrested in relation to terrorism offences. Some were as young as 14. Of all Prevent referrals in 2018/19, under 21s made up 58%, with nearly half of those relating to under 15s.
Currently, just 2% of referrals into the Prevent programme are made by family and friends, despite the fact that they are more likely to spot the signs of radicalisation before anyone else.
Inspector Alex Wood, from the East Midlands Prevent team, said: “As vulnerable people have been further isolated during this pandemic, we worry their susceptibility to negative influence, particularly online, may increase. At the same time, however, families who share the same household are spending much more time together. This offers an important opportunity to take note of anything untoward.
“You are best placed to see when the behaviour of a loved one is changing; when something just doesn’t seem right with them. Are they spending a lot of time online? Do they seem guarded about their activities? Showing anger and displaying extreme views?
“Could they be being radicalised?
“It’s not a nice question to have to ask yourself, nor something anyone wants to be thinking about someone you care about, but it is vital that we all know the signs and act early if we suspect something is wrong. That way, they can get the support they need before the situation escalates into something more serious.
“You are not alone. Together we can help prevent them from becoming drawn into harmful activities or groups, and help them choose a different path.”
Receiving support is voluntary. We’ll need the person’s permission to help them. We won’t tell the person you’re worried about that you called us, unless you say we can.
Visit ActEarly.uk for more information. You can also call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, where our specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns.
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