Question no 1: I’M CONCERNED ABOUT SOMEONE BEING RADICALISED. WHAT CAN I DO?
Answer: Call your local police on 101 to access the relevant support and advice.
Question no 2: AREN’T THESE ISSUES BEST KEPT WITHIN THE FAMILY?
Answer: 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.
Question no 3: BY INFORMING THE POLICE, WON’T THE INDIVIDUAL BE ARRESTED?
Answer: 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.
Question no 4: SHOULDN’T THIS SORT OF THING BE HANDLED WITHIN THE COMMUNITY?
Answer: 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.
Question no 5: WE’VE KNOWN ABOUT HIM/HER FOR YEARS. SURELY THEY’RE HARMLESS?
Answer: 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.
Question no 6: WILL EVIDENCE OF A REFERRAL APPEAR ON THE PERSON’S EDUCATION RECORD?
Answer: 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.
Question no 7: IF A REFERRAL IS MADE WILL IT AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL’S CHANCES OF EMPLOYMENT IN THE FUTURE?
Answer: 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.
Question no 8: IF YOU DON’T INTERVENE, DOESN’T IT MEAN YOU AGREE WITH WHAT’S GOING ON?
Answer: 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.
Question no 9: ISN’T PREVENT JUST ANOTHER FORM OF SPYING BY THE GOVERNMENT?
Answer: 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.
Question no 10: WHAT DOES SYRIA HAVE TO DO WITH US?
Answer: The process of radicalisation here and terrorist attacks planned against targets in this country have very often had connections overseas. Additionally, the great majority of terrorist-related websites of most concern are hosted outside this country.
Many people from this country who have been radicalised have travelled overseas and during that time have met and been influenced by extremist or terrorist organisations: their travel is part of the radicalisation process. A significant number of radicalised people now resident here have travelled to this country from overseas and were radicalised before they arrived.
Currently, the conflict in Syria continues to generate great concern for the entire international community. The threat is real, both for individuals who travel there to support their cause and those who return to continue the fight against British citizens. It cannot be seen as an issue to be avoided and concerns this particular threat must be acknowledged accordingly.
Question no 11: What is Islamism?
It is the belief that Islam is a political ideology, as well as a faith. It is a modernist claim that political sovereignty belongs to God, that Shari’ah should be used as state law, that Muslims form a political rather than a religious bloc around the world and that it is a religious duty for all Muslims to create a political entity that is governed as such. Islamism is a spectrum, with Islamists disagreeing over how they should bring their ‘Islamic’ state into existence.
Some Islamists seek to engage with existing political systems, others reject the existing systems as illegitimate but do so non-violently, and others seek to create an ‘Islamic state’ through violence. Most Islamists are socially modern but others advocate a more retrograde lifestyle. Islamists often have contempt for Muslim scholars and sages and their traditional institutions; as well as a disdain for non-Islamist Muslims and the West.
Question no 12: Are all Islamists terrorists?
No, and not all terrorists are Islamists either. One can be a radical without being violent, or advocating violence. However, some who follow an Islamist agenda do use their political/religious beliefs in order to justify acts of violence, including violence that deliberately targets civilians. As such, Islamists often provide a narrative in which Islam as a faith is portrayed as being under attack. Such an interpretation can play into the hands of those who argue that Islam is in need of self-defense, even if it includes attacking civilians, including Muslims. Non-violent Islamists can champion this narrative, providing the mood music to which suicide bombers dance.
Question no 13: What is jihadism?
Jihadism is the use of violence to bring about Islamism; it is a framework for interpreting and justifying political violence around the world. Instead of understanding any given conflict as a product of local and regional contexts (social, political, economic etc.), jihadism interprets all conflicts involving Muslims through the lens of a narrative which perceives Islam as a religion to be under attack, and therefore in need of a violent defense. Jihadism has been used both to justify acts of violence targeting combatants and acts of terrorism targeting civilians. Jihadists rarely concede that targeting civilians is terrorism though, often disputing either the victims’ civilian status or the idea that civilians were deliberately targeted.
Question no 14: Is there any proof that extremism leads to terrorist violence?
Certain factors, whether they lead to terrorism or not, are highly problematic in themselves in terms of social and national cohesion. It is our contention that ultimately, seeking or demanding empirical proof for complex human behaviour patterns is unhelpful. Just as there is no direct proof that the spread of neo-Nazi or fascist ideas in society leads directly to violence against Jews or other minorities, we would nevertheless find it extremely problematic if such views were to spread, and would be concerned from a common sense approach about the danger of this rhetoric provoking violence. It goes without saying that all violent neo-Nazis were at some stage non-violent neo-Nazis before they commenced to attack their victims. The same is true of Islamism. To our ears, it is somewhat strange that people readily accept this premise for ideologies indigenous to Europe, yet not for ideologies whose origins lie elsewhere.
Question no 15: What is the RAN?
The Radicalisation Awareness Network, launched in September 2011, is an umbrella network connecting people involved in preventing radicalisation and violent extremism throughout Europe. First liner practitioners from different Member States and Norway, such as social workers, religious leaders, youth leaders, policemen, researchers and others who work on the ground in vulnerable communities can meet, each in their area of expertise, in order to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences.
Question no 16: How can a network help to counter violent extremism?
Fighting terrorism and violent extremism is not only a question of security measures. The best prevention is to stop people from getting involved in violent extremist activities in the first place, or to convince them to turn away from violence promoting ideologies. Prevention, especially at an early stage, cannot be left to a small number of authorities and actors to deal with. The nature of the phenomenon requires a wide-ranging cooperation and multitude of expertise.
As a ‘network of networks’ the RAN includes eight working groups consisting of practitioners and researchers with concrete and practical involvement in preventing radicalisation issues.
- It helps practitioners in identifying good practices and promoting the exchange of experience in different fields, such as how to provide support to, very often young, individuals who want to stay out or break with violent extremist groups.
- It provides an opportunity to share experiences between countries, and raise awareness and knowledge within new groups of practitioners.
- It provides feedback from practitioners to policy makers and contributes to policy processes at national and European level.
Question no 17: What are the root causes of radicalisation leading to terrorism?
EU research has provided useful comparative results on radicalisation and de-radicalisation processes and on the evolving and complex social context of religions, multiculturalism and political extremism in many Member States. There is a growing consensus that drivers conducive to radicalisation may include a strong sense of alienation, perceived injustice or humiliation reinforced by social marginalisation, xenophobia and discrimination, limited education or employment possibilities, criminality or psychological problems. These factors can be exploited by recruiters who prey on vulnerabilities and grievances through manipulation. Recent developments including the most recent terrorist attacks perpetrated in Europe, but more broadly the large number of EU foreign terrorist fighters, the increasing number of women and children becoming radicalised and recruited by terrorist groups as well as the use of modern communication tools for such purposes, represent new challenges in terms of understanding and addressing the underlying root causes and processes of radicalisation.
Question no 18: What evidence exists already on the phenomenon of radicalisation?
The phenomenon of radicalisation is not new. EU research has provided useful comparative results on radicalisation and de-radicalisation processes among young people and on the evolving and complex social context of religions, multiculturalism and political extremism in many Member States. Several projects on radicalisation were launched under the Seventh Framework Programme for European Research and Technological Development (FP7). In addition, the Commission has included research topics on radicalisation and inclusion in 2016 under its research and development programme Horizon 2020. The fresh evidence generated by these projects will strengthen the capacity of Member States to fine-tune existing policy approaches and develop new policies and practices.
Question no 19: How does the EU support those working with young people on the ground ?
Complementing formal education, youth work is a particularly powerful tool to reach out to the most disadvantaged young people. It can help prevent marginalisation, which makes young people more vulnerable to extremist views. Engagement of youth workers is important as part of a broader collaboration with all relevant actors, including educational institutions, community organisations, employers and those closest to young people: their families and friends.
The Commission is supporting this with a specific toolkit for youth workers and educators being developed in close cooperation with Member States. This will include practical guidance, methods and case studies for training youth workers and youth organisations to reach out to and work with young people at risk of marginalisation. It will for example include methods to help with detecting violent radicalisation and handling conflicts in a non-violent way. The toolkit is being developed by a dedicated expert group on the contribution of youth work for fostering active citizenship, preventing marginalisation and radicalisation. It will be possible to adapt the tools to the specific local environments and needs.