What is the Prevent Agenda?

The Prevent Agenda was set up in 2006 by the Labour government as part of the wider counter-terrorism strategy called CONTEST.

What is Terrorism?

Terrorism involves committing violent acts for political, religious or ideological reasons.

The acts can be committed as part of an organised group or alone, however it is usually categorised as a group phenomenon.

In the build up to committing these violent acts, people are usually radicalised. Radicalisation is the action or process of causing someone to adopt radical positions on political or social issues.

The most prevailing forms of radicalisation currently in the UK are from Islamic Extremists and Right-Wing Extremists.

The following is a quote from Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s key note speech in June 2018:

The biggest threat is from Islamist terrorism particularly from Daesh, but extreme right-wing terrorism is also an increasing threat. Both exploit grievances, distort the truth, and undermine the values that hold us together.

Sajid Javid, Home Secretary

What is the Prevent Agenda?

It is a UK-wide strategy that aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

The strategy’s three objectives are:

  • To challenge the ideology that supports terrorism.
  • To protect vulnerable people.
  • To support sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.

Organisations such as councils and schools develop projects to reduce the risk of people becoming involved in terrorist activity. According to government figures, around 42,000 people participated in 142 projects in 2015/16.

The strategy also provides advice, support and social media training to civil society groups to help them deliver counter-narrative campaigns and remove any extremist material from the internet.

Training and learning materials are provided to staff in organisations such as the NHS in order to help them recognise radicalisation.

CONTEST 3.0 – The UK’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism, June 2018

The Home Office’s updated counter-terrorism strategy states that through Prevent, the government, local authorities, police and communities will continue to safeguard and support vulnerable people from the risk of being drawn into terrorism.

The focus of the updated Prevent strategy is to:

  • Focus activity and resources in locations where the threat level of terrorism and radicalisation are highest.
  • Expand the Desistance and Disengagement Programme which aims to double the number of individuals receiving rehabilitative interventions in the next 12 months.
  • Develop a series of multi-agency pilots to trial methods to improve understanding of those at risk of involvement in terrorism and enable earlier intervention.
  • Focus online activity on preventing the distribution of terrorist material and build strong counter-terrorist narratives in order to ensure there are no safe places for terrorists online.
  • Build stronger partnerships with communities, civil society groups, public sector institutions and industry to improve Prevent delivery.
  • Re-enforce safeguarding at the heart of Prevent to ensure communities and families are not exploited or groomed into following a path of violent extremism.

What is Channel?

Channel is a key part of the Prevent strategy.

Police work with public bodies such as local councils, social workers, NHS staff, schools and the justice system to identify those at risk of being drawn into terrorism.

They assess what the risk might be and then develop tailored support. This support can include mentoring, anger management and drug and alcohol programmes.

In 2016/17 there were a total of 6,093 individuals referred. The referrals were mostly made by the education sector and the police.

The following is an example of a real life case:

Yusuf was at University and was aged 24 when a university staff member saw him handing out leaflets which, it turned out, were promoting a website containing extremist, homophobic and violent material. She got in touch with the university Prevent coordinator who contacted the police. Yusuf was spoken to by student services and police, who felt that he was at risk of being drawn into terrorism. Yusuf had become befriended by older radicalised men through late night discussions and weekend meetings and started to identify with extremist ideology, but he was confused. Yusuf began to move away from extremism after receiving chaplaincy and psychological support through Channel. He has now successfully completed his studies.

What makes someone at risk of radicalisation?

The following factors have been identified as increasing an individual’s risk of radicalisation:

  • Struggling with a sense of identity.
  • Questioning their place in society.
  • Family issues.
  • Experiencing a traumatic event.
  • Experiencing discrimination.
  • Difficulty in interacting socially and lacking empathy.
  • Difficulty in understanding the consequences of their actions.
  • Low self-esteem.

How to Spot the Signs of Radicalisation

There is no single pathway towards radicalisation – it is usually a combination of behaviours that are different to each person, according to their personal vulnerabilities.

The following behaviours could be an indication that an individual is becoming radicalised:

  • Ignoring or demonising viewpoints that contradict their own.
  • Expressing themselves in an ‘us vs. them’ manner about others who have alternative beliefs,
  • Increasingly secretive or unwilling to discuss views.
  • Using derogatory language.
  • Changing their circle of friends.
  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Becoming socially withdrawn or spending a lot of time online.
  • Belief in conspiracy theories and distrust of mainstream media.
  • Justifying the use of violence or expressing a desire for revenge.
  • Secretive about who they talk to online and which websites they visit.

Reporting Terrorism and Suspected Radicalisation

You can report online material that promotes terrorism or extremism on the GOV.UK website

Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism

If you suspect someone is involved in terrorism in any way or that someone has been radicalised you can call the police or report your suspicions to them online.

You can remain anonymous throughout this process.

Alternatively you can call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline anonymously on 0800 789 321.


The government’s Securing the Future: Counter Terrorism Strategy

A Government case study about the Channel Programme.

Government guidance on reporting if you suspect someone is involved in terrorism.

An article from The Conversation asking, ‘Are Autistic People at a Greater Risk of Being Radicalised?’.

You can read about the other types of harm.


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