Oxfordshire County Council logo

Safeguarding vulnerable people from extremism

Helping to reduce the threat from terrorism and extremism and knowing how to report a concern.

The Prevent strategy is part of the UK Counter Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST)  published by the Government in 2011.

Prevent has three main objectives to:

  • respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism
  • support vulnerable people and prevent people from being drawn into terrorism
  • work with key sectors and institutions and address risks.

It focuses on early intervention before any illegal activity takes place. The aim is to reduce the likelihood of individuals who support a violent extremist ideology of becoming terrorists. Find out more about National Prevent Strategy (pdf format)

Reporting concerns

Don’t rely on others. Please report any concerns you have about an adult or child who you think may be vulnerable to being drawn into extremism.

Reporting a concern: If you are concerned about any adult or child who you think may be vulnerable to being drawn into extremist activity, please report your concern.

Call 0345 050 7666

  • For adults, ask for the Social and Healthcare Team
  • For children, ask for Oxfordshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Spotting the signs

There is no single profile of a person likely to become involved in extremism and the process of radicalisation is different for every individual.

Radicalisers use normal social processes such as loyalty, self-perception, and fear of exclusion to influence others.

Signs that an individual may be being groomed into extremism could be:

  • vulnerable individuals becoming withdrawn and stopping participating in their usual activities
  • they may express feelings of:
    • anger
    • grievance
    • injustice
    • or go missing from their home, school or care setting
  • a new group of friends who have an extremist ideology
  • using language that supports ‘us and them’ thinking
  • or possessing or searching for extremist literature online.

Making a Prevent referral

How to report concerns about a child or adult at risk of extremism.

1.  Make safe
If emergency services are required - call 999.  Take responsible steps to ensure that there is no immediate danger.

2.  Refer
Refer concerns identified by member of public or professional.

3.  Call MASH or the Social and Health Care Team

  • For adults, ask for the Social and Healthcare Team
  • For children, ask for Oxfordshire Multi- Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

What does this mean for Oxfordshire?

Prevent in Oxfordshire is delivered by a wide range of organisations including:

  • the county council
  • district councils
  • schools and registered childcare providers
  • further education institutions
  • prisons
  • probation service
  • and the police.

Work being undertaken by the county council to support Prevent includes:

  • training social workers, hub workers, fire officers, trading standards officers, teachers and other frontline staff on how to spot the signs of extremism and how to respond appropriately
  • early intervention through the Channel Panel. To support people who are at risk of extremism and provide practical help tailored to their individual needs
  • development of a county council strategy for Prevent. To provide a framework for multi-agency working through the Oxfordshire Safer Community Partnership. Including training, awareness raising and sharing good practice, as well as oversight of the Channel Panel
  • supporting district-level Prevent action plans. Setting out how the four Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) are reducing the risk of extremism in their communities.

Further information on preventing extremism can be found on the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board website.

About Channel Panel

Channel Panel is an early intervention scheme that supports people who are at risk of radicalisation and provides practical support tailored to individual needs.

It can help people to make positive choices about their lives.  It is about safeguarding individuals vulnerable to radicalisation by using existing multi-agency working between local authorities to:

  • identify individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism
  • assess the nature and extent of that risk
  • develop the most appropriate support plan for the individual concerned.

A clear process is in place to ensure that the right people are referred to the panel.  If a referral is made, an initial risk assessment is carried out to ensure that it is an appropriate referral and, if it is, the Channel Panel agrees an appropriate support plan. The assessment and plan are formally reviewed every six months for each referred individual.  Taking part in Channel is voluntary.

Further information about Prevent

Further information and support

You can email the police about Prevent: prevent@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Frequently asked questions

What is Prevent?

Prevent is one of the four core elements of the Government’s strategy for countering terrorism (CONTEST ) with the three other elements being Pursue, Protect and Prepare.

The Government’s Prevent Strategy 2011 aims to stop people supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists. Following the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015 – see below) revised guidance on implementing the new duty was introduced in September 2015 

Preventing extremism is about early intervention before illegal activity takes place.

Why is Prevent important to local authorities?

The Counter Terrorism & Security Act (February, 2015) placed a duty on local authorities and other ‘specified authorities’ to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

Local authorities are vital to protecting the public, safeguarding children and adults with care and support needs, as well as preventing crime and promoting strong, integrated communities. They are therefore well-placed to work in partnership to manage risk and co-ordinate activity to prevent people from being drawn into extremism.

To meet the new duty, local authorities are:

  • training frontline staff to spot the signs of extremism and make a referral
  • ensuring preventing extremism is included in existing policies and procedures, especially those related to safeguarding and to prevent public resources being used to support terrorism
  • managing the Channel Panel which offers support to people being exploited by extremists
  • providing information and support to schools and engaging with communities

What are the signs that someone may be being drawn into extremism?

Protecting those vulnerable to extremism is a safeguarding issue similar to protecting children or vulnerable adults from other harms such as substance misuse, being drawn into a gang, or becoming a victim of sexual exploitation.

It is important to be alert to any changes in behaviour such as: withdrawal from usual activities; expressing feelings of anger, grievance or injustice; truanting / going missing from school or care; expressing ‘them and us’ thinking; using inappropriate language and / or advocating violent actions and means’ possessing extremist literature and / or expressing extremist views; associating with known extremists; seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology.

This list is indicative of the types of behaviour that might be exhibited when someone is being
exploited, however, they could also be due to other forms of exploitation. Establishing a trusting relationship with a child or adult with care and support needs, not only helps to encourage more open discussions about concerns but also makes it easier to spot when there is a change in behaviour.

What is extremism?

Extremism is when someone has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable. They hold extreme political or religious views.

The aim of Prevent is to stop people becoming violent extremists.

Violent extremism is when a person or group uses fear, terror and violence to achieve an ideological, political or social change. Such acts are not confined to any single ideology, religion, political outlook or person.

There are many different types of violent extremism. Motivations are varied and many usually relate to particular ideologies, examples are:

  • political movements
  • religious beliefs
  • animal rights
  • environmental issues
  • economic issues.

What is the Channel Panel?

The Channel Panel in Oxfordshire supports children and adults with care and support needs who are vulnerable to extremism. It is a multi-agency panel that draws on a range of services to put a support plan in place for the individual at risk of being radicalised.

The Oxfordshire Channel Panel is chaired by the Chief / Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire County Council and is supported by social services, district councils, the police and a range of other support services including probation and health.

Initial checks are made to ensure that referrals are suitable for Channel Panel support and anyone who is referred must give their consent to being supported by the Panel.

There is an on-line Channel Panel awareness raising training package that can be accessed.

How do I make a referral?

If you are concerned about an individual being drawn into extremism call 0345 050 7666 and ask for the Oxfordshire MASH (child / young person) or Social and Health Care Team (vulnerable adult).

If you are not sure about whether to make a referral and would like to have a discussion about your concerns you can discuss a potential referral with the Police Prevent Officer:

If you have any general concerns about the new Prevent duty that you wish to discuss with the police: prevent@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Reporting online terrorist content

The internet and social media provides many opportunities for those with extreme views to target young or vulnerable individuals.

Members of the public who come across suspicious internet sites, chat rooms or other web-based forums can now report their concerns via www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.

You can report material such as:

  • articles, images, speeches or videos that promote terrorism or encourage violence
  • content encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism
  • websites made by terrorist or extremist organisations
  • videos of terrorist attacks.