What is radicalisation?
Radicalisation is where a person, often from a vulnerable background, begins to adopt extreme political, religious, or social views and through these engages in extremist activity, which can include supporting terrorism and violent extremism. Their views will often be formed through misinformation, misunderstanding, jealousy, anger, a ‘sense of injustice’, resentment or fear.
We often think about radicalisation in terms of Islamic extremism, but vulnerable people can also be radicalised to hold extreme views of other kinds, such as far-right extremism.
Of course, not everybody will share the same view or opinion, and having a different view does not mean that somebody is radical. The concern is when somebody with extreme views acts or intends to act upon their views in a way that could harm themselves or others. And even if they do not intend to do anything about them, extreme views that are based on lies and misinformation can be damaging to somebody’s mental health.
How can I spot radicalisation?
There is no typical profile of a person likely to become radicalised and the process of radicalisation can be very different for each individual. Although it’s not always easy to spot the signs of radicalisation, there are some things to look out for:
- A person may become argumentative and domineering
- They may be quick to condemn those who don’t agree with them
- They may begin to use offensive terms about those who do not share their views, or who come from a particular social or religious background
- Their interests and their circle of friends may change. They may distance themselves from friends they were previously close to and activities they used to enjoy, and have new friends who express radical or extremist views
- They may spend increasing amounts of time online, and be overly secretive about what they are doing.
Where can I get help?
If you are worried that a child or young person is being radicalised, there are plenty of sources of help and advice. For example, the NSPCC has a free 24/7 helpline where trained helpline counsellors can provide help, advice and support (0808 800 5000, email@example.com).
Families Against Stress and Trauma (FAST) is a UK based organisation which provides support to vulnerable families and individuals whose lives have been affected by the trauma of losing loved ones to extremist ideologies and groups. Their website provides more information about how to spot possible signs of radicalisation and what to do.
What to do if you suspect that someone is being radicalised?
If you are concerned that someone is at risk of being radicalised, then please contact your local authority Social Services Safeguarding Team to talk about your concerns. Please don't assume that someone else will report the concern and don't worry if you think you might be wrong - it is still important for someone with experience and responsibility to look into it.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, you should ring 999.
If you think a crime might have taken place, such as rape, assault or theft, please ring the police and be careful not to remove or destroy any evidence.
If you are worried about contacting the police you can always contact your local authority Social Services Safeguarding Team to talk things over first.
You do not have to say who you are but this may make it more difficult for us to investigate and protect you or the person being abused.
If you feel nervous about talking to social services, you could ask someone to talk to them on your behalf. This could be a nurse, a carer, an advocate or a friend or relative you trust.