Preventing Radicalisation training for Volunteers

Please read the training material below and then click the button at the end of the page to show you have read this.


Session Overview

Learning Objectives

  • List the objectives of the Prevent strategy
  • Identify how volunteers can support Prevent
  • Identify factors that can make individuals more likely to be radicalised or be a risk to others
  • State what action to take if you have concerns about an individual or individuals
  • Explain what makes a person vulnerable
  • List how individuals may be influenced directly or indirectly
  • Explain the importance of sharing information and the consequences of failing to do so

Why is Prevent Important?

This session will cover an awareness of Prevent. Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism. The threat that the UK faces from terrorism has never been greater nor more diverse; it is important that everyone is aware of, and understands, the risks posed.

Prevent is a safeguarding process which focuses on all forms of terrorism. Volunteers have a key role to play in safeguarding children and adults who may be at risk, they are often well placed to notice the signs that someone is being radicalised.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults is everyone’s responsibility.

What is important is that if you are concerned that an individual is being exploited in this way, you can raise concerns in accordance with your organisation’s policies and procedures. This training will provide you with an overview of the Prevent strategy, how the signs of vulnerability may present and how you can raise your concerns.

Legal Definitions

Terrorism – The current UK definition of Terrorism is given in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000).

In summary, this defines terrorism as “An action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious damage to property; or seriously interferes or disrupts an electronic system. The use or threat must be designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”

Radicalisation – This refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.

Extremism – This is 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.

Vulnerability – This describes the condition of being capable of being injured; difficult to defend; or open to moral or ideological attack. Within Prevent, the word describes factors and characteristics associated with being susceptible to radicalisation.

What is Prevent?

Prevent is part of the British Government’s programme for tackling terrorism. This programme is called CONTEST.

The aim of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK and its citizens and interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence

CONTEST has four key work streams.

Pursue – Trying to stop terrorist attacks from happening by detecting, prosecuting and otherwise disrupting those who plot to carry out attacks.

Prevent – Trying to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Protect – Trying to strengthen out protection against a terrorist attack.

Prepare – Trying to limit the impact of a terrorist attack.

The Aims of Prevent

We meet an awful lot of people! Almost everyone in Britain who has got involved with terrorism will have met volunteers at some point. So we may have opportunities to identify people who are at risk.

Occasionally, volunteers have themselves become radicalised or drawn into terrorism. It could affect one of our colleagues.

Volunteers must be able to recognise signs of radicalisation and be confident in raising concerns.

Prevent is: Trying to stop individuals being drawn into terrorist-related activity.

Terrorist acts – People who commit terrorist acts don’t start off as terrorists. They often start off as vulnerable people who are exploited by terrorist groups or influenced by terrorist propaganda (information, usually biased or misleading, which is used to promote a political cause, point of view or ideology).

Identifying people who are vulnerable – Prevent is about identifying people who are vulnerable to being exploited or ‘groomed’ or ‘radicalised’ by a terrorist organisation or its propaganda, but before they actually get involved in such organisations or commit any terrorist act.

Safeguarding – Prevent takes a safeguarding approach and tries to help people choose a different path, offering them mentoring or other support they may need to address their vulnerability.

Why is Prevent Important to Volunteers?

Prevent does not require you to do anything additional to your normal volunteering activities.

However, if you are concerned that someone you are supporting is being exploited or influenced by a group that supports terrorism you should report this to your manager. This also applies to other volunteers or others you may come into contact with.

You need to know how and when to do this – this is why you are doing this training

As a volunteer, you must be aware of your duty to protect vulnerable people and to take action where necessary for safeguarding and crime prevention purposes.

You must ensure that you:

  • Know when you should be concerned about someone who is vulnerable to being radicalised
  • Report any concerns to your manager.

The Signs and Factors of Vulnerability

Age – They may be any age group, including children.

Influences – They may be influenced by family members or friends, direct contact with extremist groups and organisations or, increasingly, through the internet and social media.

People who are vulnerable – People who are vulnerable in other ways may also be vulnerable to radicalisation.

Group of people – Being ‘vulnerable’ doesn’t turn someone into a terrorist – most people have some sort of vulnerability in their lives.

Many vulnerabilities – But when lots of vulnerabilities come together, it may be easier for a radical group to target the person and influence them.

Offering friendship – Some terrorist organisations have particularly targeted people who appear to be vulnerable, pretending to offer them friendship.

Here are some factors that may cause vulnerability:

Personal, mental and life issues –

Mental health factors:

  • Mental illness
  • Learning difficulties
  • Personality problems
  • Low self-esteem

Difficult life experiences:

  • Isolation, loneliness, bullying
  • Family upheaval
  • Feeling excluded from mainstream society because of unemployment, poverty, racism
  • Immigration, migration and distance from cultural heritage
  • Feeling aggrieved because of lack of opportunity or being let down by others or by society
  • Drug and alcohol misuse

Who you know and who you meet:

  • Spending time in a setting where there are other people with extreme views
  • Contact with gangs, criminal groups
  • Exposure to propaganda
  • Peer pressure from others who are radicalised themselves
  • Being targeted by groups or individuals who recognise vulnerability

External influences –

Events or issues in this country or elsewhere, which lead the individual to feel alienated from all or part of the mainstream of society, such as:

  • War or sanctions which harm a country or group with which the individual has ties or allegiances
  • National policies which support an objective or group to which the individual is strongly opposed
  • Dominance of groups or ideologies which oppress or disempower other groups within society
  • An increasing trend of extremist violence which may normalise this as a means of achieving political ends

Criminality _-

People who are already involved in violent crime or who have already turned their back on the law may have less personal resistance to being drawn into political violence than people who are normally law-abiding.

People who are caught up in the criminal justice system are much more likely than others to have contact with people who hold violent and extremist views: many people are radicalised in prison.

Identifying Vulnerable People

How do we know if someone is being targeted by extremists?

We very rarely know ‘for sure’. Most of the signs that may indicate radicalisation also occur in people who are not becoming radicalised – particularly in young people who are looking for a sense of identity.

But if several signs are present, or if any sign is present to an exaggerated way, there may be reason to worry.

Have a look at the signs that an individual may be being groomed into radicalisation, bearing in mind that there is no single profile.

A change in behaviour – Changes in behaviour may include:

  • Becoming withdrawn and not participating in their activities
  • Going missing from their home, school or care setting.
  • Possessing, or searching for, extremist information online, or being secretive about their internet interests, e.g. switching screens when you come near their phone or computer.
  • Becoming more aggressive and fixated with certain ideas or political views.

A change in views and interests – Changes in views and interests may include:

  • Developing a conviction that their religion, culture or beliefs are under threat and treated unjustly.
  • Looking for conspiracy theories and distrust of mainstream media.
  • Using language that supports ‘us and them’ thinking
  • Getting preoccupied with feelings of hatred or anger about particular mainstream or minority groups.
  • Losing interest in previous activities or friends
  • Adopting new friendship groups

A change in appearance – Changes in appearance may include:

  • Changing dress or style to accord with a new group.
  • Having materials, tattoos or symbols associated with an extremist cause (E.g. the swastika for far right groups)

Online Safety

The use of social media to attract and groom individuals by radicalisers is ever increasing.

Radicalisers are creative in their thinking and approach using many forms of social media. Often conversations begin on open social media sites and then move onto private messaging. This allows for more hidden ways of communication and could potentially make investigations and access to evidence more problematic.

Some people show signs that they are beginning to associate with extremist ideas by changes in their online profiles, including their profile image or name.

When there are Concerns

Concerns that an individual may be vulnerable to radicalisation, does not mean that you think the person is a terrorist, it means that you are concerned they are at risk of being exploited/groomed by others.

If you have any concerns please speak to your volunteer coordinator.

You may also have concerns about an individual outside of your volunteer role. If this is the case, you must contact the police.

Remember – we all have a duty of care and safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Information Sharing

We need to make sure that we share information. There have been cases where not sharing information has resulted in missed opportunities. There are golden rules for information sharing.

Data Protection Act (2018) – The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) provides a framework for ensuring that personal information is shared appropriately. The DPA 2018 has been written to translate GDPR into UK law and it is, therefore, important that GDPR and DPA 2018 are read side by side.

Safety and well-being – Consider the safety and well-being of the person and others who may be affected by any actions.

Ensure information is necessary – Ensure the information you share is necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure.

Seek advice – Seek advice if you are in any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible.

Session Summary

Key Points

  • Prevent is a safeguarding process which focuses on all forms of terrorism. Prevent tries to stop individuals being drawn into terrorist-related activity
  • The threat that the UK faces from terrorism has never been greater nor more diverse; it is important that everyone is aware of, and understands, the risks posed
  • Don’t rely on others to pass on information. You have a duty and responsibility to report any concerns you have about an adult or child who you think may be vulnerable to being drawn into extremism

Sign up to receive monthly updates

Share your story