The 2015 Counter-Terrorism Security Act places responsibility on certain bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Although this list of bodies does not explicitly include charitable bodies, or organizations working with refugees, it is important that such bodies are aware of the components of radicalisation, including the signs of radicalisation and procedures to follow in the case of suspicion. This report attempts to address these components clearly for the staff of Refugees at Home, giving them a guide to follow. This report is not intended as an exhaustive account of radicalisation, more a clear and simple guide to the basics of the subject and to establish a framework of action for Refugees at Home in such case as it is needed.
The aims of the report are as follows:
Radicalisation is a process by which individuals or groups begin to adopt extreme political, social or religious beliefs which reject or oppose the status quo.
In the case of the UK, this has been defined as rejecting values including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Radicalisation is a process by which individuals can come to support extremist or terrorist groups or demonstrate a willingness to use violence means to change social systems.
Radicalisation can occur across any belief or religious system, although the most prominent current trends are those of Islamic fundamentalism and right-wing extremism.
Radicalisation can be self-directed, i.e. the individual becomes radicalised themselves, often via the Internet where they can read engage with opinions they might not find otherwise, or individuals can be ‘groomed’ by another person. Grooming is particularly common in the case of young people being radicalised although groomers or recruiters can target any age group. Recruiters target those feeling vulnerable and lacking emotional support.
Although the threat of terrorism is real, and the UK is at high risk for terrorist attacks, it is important to remember that radicalisation is rare.
Despite many publicly expressed fears, the risk of radicalisation in the refugee community is low, as it is among the rest of the population.
However, some vulnerabilities that have been noted as risk factors for radicalisation, are vulnerabilities frequently felt by refugees living in the UK. Such vulnerabilities include :
The difficult realities of refugee life in the UK, place refugees or recent migrants into this at-risk body, meaning awareness of
the signs of radicalisation is important for Refugees at Home, which regularly interacts with such persons.
Frustration, anger and fear are normal responses for refugees and expressing these feelings is important. It is key to remember that criticizing the UK government, international political system or British society is not necessarily an indicator of radicalisation, it is the willingness or desire to use violence to ‘fix’ such issues which is problematic.
It is also important to remember that a response to radicalisation, particularly when dealing with young people, is proportionate.
Radicalisation appears differently in different individuals. Some cases of radicalisation are very obvious, others are not. There are some general signs of radicalisation, although in and of themselves they are not necessarily confirmation of radicalisation.
Such signs include:
The UK Government’s response to the threat of radicalisation and ‘home-grown’ terrorism is expansive. However, for the purposes of this document, only one body is significant:
PREVENT is the official body tasked with challenging radicaslition at a community level, and consists of education and awareness training for schools, colleges, local authorities, police forces, prisons and the health sector. Many of their educational materials are available online, particularly an e-learning video to help recognize the signs of radicalisation.
If someone is at risk of immediate harm dial 999 If you suspect someone is at risk of radicalisation call the Police on 101, and ask to speak to their PREVENT representative.
If you suspect someone might pose a risk to national security, but the threat is not immediate call the confidential antiterorrist hotline: 0800 789 321
Sometimes PREVENT or the local police force are not the appropriate bodies to help with a situation you are dealing with. In this case it is important to remember there are other options available.
The vast majority of people – even those who present multiple signs of radicalisation – are not in danger of being radicalized. They may be suffering from mental health issues, or be expressing understandable concern about the situation in their home countries or personal lives.
Alternative sources for advice and help include the following:
A GP or medical professional: If you are worried that the individual in question needs to see a doctor for a psychological assessment, there are plenty of sources of help in the form of charitable bodies. Although access to medical care for refugees can be a challenge, groups such as Doctors of the World can provide help and support. Please also see the Refugee council’s website for more information.
Local imams and religious authorities: A local imam should be able to suggest local resources available in the area. Many community schemes such as Engage, in Yorkshire seek to address radicalisation without alientaing the individual concerned.
For the official PREVENT site, with the Duty Guidelines for the United Kingdom, please see here
For an effective e-learning source, aimed at those working with vulnerable people, please review the UK Government prevent guidance