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Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

Scope of this chapter

This document is intended to provide summary information to all partners on the procedures for identifying and dealing with children and young people vulnerable to violent extremism and radicalisation.


In February 2024, information on the Channel Programme was added into Section 4, What to do if you have Concerns. 

February 5, 2024

  • Pursue - aims to stop terrorist attacks in the UK and against our interests overseas;
  • Prevent - aims to stop radicalisation, reduce support for terrorism and violent extremism and discourage people from becoming terrorists;
  • Protect - aims to strengthen against terrorist attack, including borders, utilities, transport, infrastructure and crowded places;
  • Prepare - aims mitigate the impact of a terrorist incident where it cannot be stopped.

PREVENT is at the forefront of this strategy and most relevant to those working with children and young people within our communities, where identification of vulnerability factors is most likely to take place.

There is now a statutory duty on a range of Government organisations working with the public, including the Police, local authorities, prisons, schools and universities, to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.

Please see the Prevent Strategy (June 2011).

The Prevent strategy:

  • Responds to the ideological challenge we face from terrorism and aspects of extremism, and the threat we face from those who promote these views;
  • Provides practical help to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensures they are given appropriate advice and support. CHANNEL is part of Prevent and is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The programme uses a multi-Agency approach to protect vulnerable people by, identifying individuals at risk, assessing the nature and extent of that risk, developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned;
  • Works with a wide range of sectors (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, online and health) where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to deal with.

The strategy covers all forms of terrorism, including far right extremism and some aspects of non-violent extremism.

All SCP member organisations should:

  • Be aware of and understand the PREVENT agenda and CHANNEL;
  • Review safeguarding procedures to ensure PREVENT is included as standard;
  • Support and where necessary seek advice and guidance for next steps to ensure that vulnerable individuals are provided with the correct care package, either from existing services or specialised PREVENT interventionists.
  • The biggest threat is around terrorist groups seeking to radicalise and recruit people. This threat is greater amongst young people;
  • ‘Extremism’ is defined, in Prevent, as vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas;
  • The localism agenda will support the Prevent strategy. Communities and local authorities will have a key part to play as developing a sense of belonging and will be an important part of wider partnership working;
  • The threat is not just from radical religious groups such as ‘Islamic State’ but also from radical ‘far right’ and other political groups who may attempt to radicalise children and young people;
  • Prevent and Channel are not about prosecuting or stigmatising individuals who have been referred. It is about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist activity.

Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council have embedded PREVENT into its safeguarding procedures. All contacts made with concerns in relation to PREVENT will be assessed through Cumberland Safeguarding Hub or Westmorland and Furness Safeguarding Hub. Any professional or member of the public highlighting a concern in Cumbria should call the Hub on 0333 240 1727 where the concern will be assessed by multi-Agency staff. Cumbria Police’s PREVENT Officers will work closely with the Hub and support all referrals into the council.

The lists below are not exhaustive. The early warning signs may or may not indicate a serious problem; they do not necessarily mean that a child is prone to violence towards themselves or others. This provides a basis to check concerns and put in place an appropriate response by getting help for a child before a problem escalates.

  • Identity Crisis - Distance from cultural / religious heritage and uncomfortable with their place in the society around them; parent or carer who holds extremist views; recent political or religious conversion; voicing opinion drawn from extremist ideology or narrative;
  • 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; change in behaviour or appearance linked to ideological views; recent experience of serious traumatic event; graffiti symbols, writing or artwork promoting extremist messages or images;
  • 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; association with others who hold extremist views; Possession of literature associated with extremist views, or online material including networking sites;
  • Unmet Aspirations – Perceptions of injustice; feeling of failure; rejection of civic life;
  • Criminality – Experiences of imprisonment; poor resettlement / reintegration; previous involvement with criminal groups; use of extremist or hate crime terms to exclude others or incite violence.

The internet in particular social media is being used as a channel, not only to promote and engage but also as a command structure. Often this promotion glorifies violence, attracting and influencing many people including children and young people and in extreme cases radicalising them. Research concludes that children and young people can be trusting and not necessarily appreciate bias that can lead to them being drawn into these groups and adopt extremist views, and in viewing this shocking and extreme content may become normalised to it.

See Online Safety – Protecting our children from Radicalisation and Extremism.

If you have concerns that a child or young person may be vulnerable to violent extremism or radicalisation you should seek advice from the person within your organisation who has responsibility for safeguarding and follow your own agency procedures in relation to notification of safeguarding issues. If you feel that there is an immediate danger to the life of the individual or others then call 999.

If following initial discussions there are serious safeguarding concerns in relation to the young person’s vulnerability to violent extremism or radicalisation then these should be reported to Cumberland Safeguarding Hub or Westmorland and Furness Safeguarding Hub in accordance with the Cumbria Multi-Agency Thresholds Guidance and the supporting document Cumbria Understanding The Level of Need and Practice Response which can be used alongside the Threshold Guidance. All professionals will then be expected to complete a single contact form for any contact to the Safeguarding Hub.

Consideration of referrals to the Channel programme may be appropriate in some cases. Response should be proportionate, with the emphasis on supporting vulnerable children and young people, unless there is evidence of more active involvement in extremist activities.

A referral to Prevent can come from anyone who is concerned about a person they know who may be at risk, whether a family member, friend, colleague or concerned professional (through their normal safeguarding process).

Channel panels assess the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and, where appropriate, arrange for support to be provided. When assessing Channel referrals, local authorities and their partners should consider how best to align these with assessments undertaken under the Children Act 1989. The Children Act 1989 promotes the view that all children and their parents should be considered as individuals and that family structures, culture, religion, ethnic origins and other characteristics should be respected. Local authorities should ensure they support and promote fundamental British values, of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. (Working Together to Safeguard Children). Referrals are carefully assessed to see if they are suitable for Channel. For those cases where it is assessed there is a risk of radicalisation, a multi-agency Channel panel chaired by the local authority will meet to discuss the referral and decide on what tailored package of support can be offered to the individual. (Factsheet: Prevent and Channel).

Advice and guidance can be sought from the prevent officer. Prevent can take referrals directly from the referrer, either by the Cumbria Police website or the submission of a national prevent referral form via the DSL, however a single contact form to the safeguarding hub should also be completed. If any information is received into the Safeguarding Hub and there is mention of a Prevent concern police in the Safeguarding Hub should be made aware and requested to submit a safeguarding report and intelligence tagged with extremism/terrorism ASAP so it can be picked up by Police intel development officers.

Telephone: 101


You can also report suspected online terrorist content by following 'Report online terrorist material' and refer any content of concern directly to social media platforms. Details of how to do this can be found at UK Safer Internet Centre website.

Telephone: 101


If you suspect it, report it to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789 321 or the Text Phone Service 0800 032 4539 alternatively on the following Metropolitan Police website.

Last Updated: April 10, 2024