Police say greater social isolation, driven by the impact of Covid 19, and a rise in online extremism has raised concerns that young people are increasingly vulnerable to radicalisation and other forms of grooming.
Parents, friends and families can get specialist support to stop them being drawn into harmful activities or groups. ACT Early – a new dedicated safeguarding website and advice line – is run by specialists at Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP).
This new resource provides advice, guidance and support for anyone who believes they know a person who may be at risk from being radicalised by terrorists or extremist content online.
Between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, 17 children in England and Wales were arrested in relation to terrorism offences. Some were as young as 14 and nearly all will have been radicalised entirely online. More than 1,500 children under the age of 15 were helped by the Prevent programme to move away from hatred and violence.
Family and friends are best placed to spot the worrying behaviour, but only 2% of referrals nationally in the Government’s anti-radicalisation programme come from that group of people although the figure is slightly higher in the South West at 3.5%.
Run locally by teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, and religious leaders, the programme places protection around people vulnerable to radicalisation, stopping them from being drawn into terrorism – regardless of the ideology.
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.
If you are worried that someone you know is being radicalised, visit Actearly.uk. For help and advice visit www.actearly.uk, or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, and specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to concerns.