The impact of Covid-19, social isolation and a rise in hateful extremism online is creating a “perfect storm” which is making more young people vulnerable to radicalisation and other forms of grooming.
But parents, friends and families can now get specialist support to stop their loved ones being drawn into harmful activities or groups, with the launch of ACT Early – a new dedicated safeguarding website and advice line from the specialists at Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP).
Family and friends are best placed to spot the worrying behaviour changes which can indicate that a loved one is heading down a path towards terrorism, but currently just 2% of referrals into the Government’s anti-radicalisation programme Prevent come from that group of people.
Prevent is just that – a preventative programme delivered locally by teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, and religious leaders. It places protection around people vulnerable to radicalisation, stopping them from being drawn into terrorism – regardless of the ideology.
It works in a similar way to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gangs, drug abuse, and sexual exploitation.
And with Covid-19 preventing regular access to schools, social workers and mental health support, specialists at CTP are concerned that people who need help are not getting it – which makes it more important for friends and family to use the new ACT Early resources to understand what might be happening to their loved one and what support Prevent can provide.
This new resource provides advice, guidance and support for anyone who is concerned that someone they know may be at risk from being radicalised by terrorists or extremist content online.
Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies. If you are worried someone close to you is becoming radicalised act early and seek help. The sooner you reach out, the quicker we can protect the person you care about from being groomed and exploited by extremists.
Police forces across the country have specially trained Prevent officers who work alongside other organisations through a Home Office programme called Prevent to help people vulnerable to radicalisation move away from violent extremism. We are here to listen and offer help and advice. Receiving support is voluntary.
Friends and family are best placed to spot the signs, so trust your instincts and tell us your concerns in confidence.
We can help if you act early. You won’t be wasting our time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them.
To find out more about how to help someone close to you visit www.actearly.uk.
Or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence and our specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns.