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During the course of radicalisation, behaviours as well as opinions are likely to change. These changes are often apparent to the friends and families of the person concerned. Such behavioural changes may be evident to family members but understanding how best to deal with them may be less clear. It’s unlikely that close family members will have the necessary skills and expertise to determine the most appropriate course of action or whether any intervention is required. Seeking support by referring concerns to an external source at the right time may well help to stop a potentially dangerous situation from occurring, whilst protecting vulnerable family members from the damaging effects of radicalisation. To access the relevant support and advice call your local police on 101.
A referral can be made for a number of reasons, many of which are not criminal activities and will not require police intervention. The role of policing has been important in the development of Prevent to date, however it is important to note that Prevent is not a police programme and it will not become one. Crucially, the Prevent strategy is not about criminalising people but about preventing tragedies through early intervention, diverting people away from the risk they face before illegality occurs.
However, where propagandists break the law in encouraging or approving terrorism, it must also mean arrest and law enforcement action. Safeguards will ensure their integrity and, in particular, appropriate protection of data.
It is also important to note here that one of the effects of Prevent to date has been the improvement in understanding and cooperation between police and communities in this country on a range of issues, including national security.
Prevent depends on a successful integration strategy. Communities and local authorities have a key part to play in this strategy. It may be that, in some instances, support and guidance will be required from outside of a specific community and it is important to recognise when this is the case. There is no shame in acting on this recognition.
Radicalisation is usually a process not an event and it may take many months or even years to develop. During that process it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people being drawn into terrorist-related activity.
It may well be that a particular individual has demonstrated concerning behaviours that, until now you have personally deemed as acceptable. However, behaviours can change, become more severe and concerns may heighten. You may discuss these issues with colleagues who feel that a line has been crossed and you may no longer feel comfortable upon further examination of the situation. It is ALWAYS important to raise genuine concerns, if only to provide reassurance that no further action is necessary.
When a young person is referred to Prevent this carries with it a responsibility to inform the parents or legal guardians, which will enable the referral to be taken forward. Many of the cases referred to Prevent involving young people occur in a school and in such cases a member of the Prevent team will engage with the school for assistance. Schools are particularly supportive and sensitive to these issues and cases can generally be resolved internally. However, if the behaviour were to continue, the school may decide to take some stand-alone action, which could impact on a future education record.
A referral to Prevent is the process by which an individual raises their concern over another member of society. This may be due to certain behaviours, activities that have raised suspicion or a concern that the person may be in a particularly vulnerable position.
It may result that no action is necessary or an investigation may take place that leads to a more thorough examination of the situation. In either instance, appropriate decisions will be taken, dependent on the findings. In most cases the investigation leads to a satisfactory outcome where no further action is necessary and there is no adverse effect on the individual in question. No unnecessary steps are taken and disruption to the day-to-day life of the individual remains limited.
However, there are justifiable occasions where the enquiry leads to a more in-depth process in order to protect the interests of the public. The severity of the case, information and evidence available will determine the next steps to be taken and the effect it will have on the individual concerned.
People who regularly come into contact with members of the public through their work have a unique opportunity to develop an insight into the life of those individual over a period of time. This often carries with it an obligation to be vigilant with regard to the safety and wellbeing of people and those around them.
Apprehension about sharing concerns may result for a number of different reasons from fear or confusion to worrying over intruding into people’s personal affairs. It may also be the case that you’re only seeing a small part of a much larger picture and are unable to ascertain all the facts. It may not necessarily be because you’re happy to go along with certain behaviours or you’re endorsing an individual’s set of beliefs.
Prevent depends on the participation of the public and individuals will not be judged on their own beliefs and opinions. Failing to raise concerns, for whatever reason could result in a potentially dangerous situation that could well be turned around through awareness and intervention.
It is true to say that some people in parts of the community have felt they have been victims of snooping. Within the Prevent Strategy, which was reviewed and improved in 2011, there are clear definitions covering the proper scope of Prevent as an integral part of the counter-terrorism strategy. It reflects the clear impetus and policy imperatives arising from the Prime Minister’s speech in Munich on 5 February 2011. His powerful and unambiguous message includes that Prevent is to be seen as focused on extremism; for it is clear that for many who have committed terrorist acts extremism is the foundation and the driver for terrorism.
Further, Prevent’s guiding principles emphasise that it must not be used as a means for covert spying on people or communities – The Government is committed to improving trust in Prevent.
If you want to make a referral regarding a particular individual or group of people, but you do not want to be identified, you can still contact Prevent directly without giving your details or use an alternative channel.