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6. Safeguarding Children Exposed to Extremist Ideology

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Contents

6.1

Introduction

6.2

Government Strategy

6.3

Roles and Responsibilities for all Professionals and Volunteers

6.4

Local Authority Children's Social Care

6.5

Strategic Analysis and Oversight

 

Appendix A: Prevent Priority Authorities

 

Appendix B: Channel Guidance – further information

 

Appendix C: Resources


6.1

Introduction


Children and young people can be radicalised in different ways:

A common feature of radicalisation is that the child or young person does not recognise the exploitative nature of what is happening and does not see themselves as a victim of grooming or exploitation.

The harm children and young people can experience ranges from a child adopting or complying with extreme views which limits their social interaction and full engagement with their education, to young children being taken to war zones and older children being groomed for involvement in violence.

This practice guidance summarises the responsibility of professionals and volunteers to intervene effectively to prevent the grooming of children for involvement in extremist activity. For many, this will mean being alert to the ways in which young people can become vulnerable to radicalisation, the indicators that they are being radicalised and knowing how to report these concerns. For others, who have more specific safeguarding responsibilities, it will involve complex work to support victims and disrupt and prosecute perpetrators. For everyone, it will involve questioning attitudes and beliefs that may get in the way of recognising that children are being radicalised and providing the consistent, determined non-judgemental support they and their families need.

This guidance recommends that Part A of the London Child Protection Procedures is followed in relation to cases where children are at risk of involvement in extremist activity. Children at risk of harm as a result of involvement or potential involvement in extremist activity should be referred to children's social care and the normal processes of checks and information gathering, assessment, strategy discussions and review processes should be followed in line with the risk level identified – see the Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support for examples of the indicators of need which would require an early help response or a response under section 17 or section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

It is important to emphasise that this guidance suggests that cases should not be held outside of children's social care unless they do not meet the threshold for a response under section 17 Child in Need or section 47 Child Protection of the Children Act 1989.

It may be appropriate to discuss some individual cases at strategic meetings such as the Channel Panel meetings but these meetings shouldn't 'hold' the cases - they should continue to be managed by children's social care.

Local authorities might find it appropriate to use child in need processes to protect children at risk of child of involvement in extremist activity where there are no or very limited concerns relating to the family home and use child protection procedures where there are safeguarding concerns relating to the family - all such decisions should be recorded and the rationale explained. However, it should be noted that there is nothing in law that restricts the use of child protection procedures to cases where the risks are intra-familial.

Children's social care should have a system in place to flag cases where there is a risk of involvement in extremist activity – any such system should enable cases to be flagged where risk is identified and to have the flag removed when that risk is no longer current. This will enable an assessment of the extent the risk relating to extremism in each local authority and across London.

The Editorial Board of the London Child Protection Procedures developed this guidance in order to avoid a parallel safeguarding process being developed for children at risk of involvement in extremist activity. The existing safeguarding procedures are robust and have a high level of accountability – it was decided that it is neither practical nor desirable to try and duplicate this system for different forms of risk.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the following documents:

Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support

This Guidance includes 'Indicators of Possible Need' which are designed to provide practitioners with an overarching view of which tier of support and intervention a child or family might require. These tiers start with children who have no need for additional support and move on to identify those children whose circumstances mean they require an immediate referral to children's social care or the police. These indicators cover a wide range of issues that can cause harm to children including key indicators that a child or young person is at risk from extremist ideology.

The Prevent Strategy 2011 - available on the GOV.UK website.

6.2

Government Strategy


Definition of Extremism

The government has defined extremism as:

Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.

The government's strategy to reduce the risk from terrorism identifies the need not only to stop terrorist attacks but also to prevent people becoming terrorists. The Government's strategy for countering international terrorism is CONTEST[1] and the Prevent strategy forms a part of this.

[1] The overall UK strategy for Countering Terrorism, known as CONTEST is available at; www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-terrorism-strategy-contest


The Prevent Strategy

Terrorist groups seek to radicalise and recruit people to their cause. The aim of Prevent is to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists by challenging the spread of terrorist ideology, supporting vulnerable individuals, and working in key sectors and institutions.

Prevent addresses all forms of terrorism and non-violent extremism which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists then exploit. The Prevent strategy makes clear that preventing people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism requires challenge to extremist ideas where they are used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups[2]. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 puts the existing Prevent programme on a statutory footing.

The Prevent Strategy sets out the following responsibilities for staff who engage with the public. They should:

Work to safeguard children and adults, including the provision of early intervention to protect and divert people away from being drawn into terrorist activity, is central to the revised Prevent strategy. Staff and organisations can access training through their local prevent lead and their local safeguarding children board.

[2] www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-duty-guidance


Channel

[3] See also Appendix B: Channel Guidance – further information.

One of the objectives of the Prevent strategy is to:

Support individuals who are vulnerable to recruitment or have already been recruited by violent extremists.

Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Channel is modelled on other successful multi-agency risk management processes.

Channel uses existing collaboration between local authorities, the police, statutory partners (such as the education sector, social services, children's and youth services and offender management services) and the local community to:


Specified Authorities

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on certain bodies ("specified authorities" listed in Schedule 6 to the Act), in the exercise of their functions, to have "due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism".

The following are 'specified authorities':

For a fully list of specified authorities see the 'Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales [July 2015][4].

The duties for staff working for these authorities vary according to the sector, but all include that they should:

[4] www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445977/
3799_Revised_Prevent_Duty_Guidance__England_Wales_V2-Interactive.pdf


Specified authorities - the education sector

Schools and early years providers are subject to the duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. See 'Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales [July 2015][5] for a full list of educational authorities which are subject to the duty. Being drawn into terrorism includes not just violent extremism but also non-violent extremism which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists seek to exploit.

Schools should be safe spaces in which children and young people can understand and discuss sensitive topics, including terrorism and the extremist ideas that are a part of terrorist ideology and learn how to challenge these ideas. The Prevent duty is not intended to limit discussion of these issues. Schools should, however, secure a balanced presentation of political issues.

Schools will be expected to ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in school. This will include establishing appropriate levels of filtering content. For further information for schools see Appendix C: Guidance for schools and colleges.

Both independent and state-maintained schools also have a duty to 'actively promote' the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. These values were first set out by the government in the 'Prevent' strategy in 2011. See Appendix C: Guidance for schools and colleges.

[5] www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445977/
3799_Revised_Prevent_Duty_Guidance__England_Wales_V2-Interactive.pdf


6.3

Roles and Responsibilities for all Professionals and Volunteers


Safeguarding Children and Young People

The grooming of children for the purposes of involvement in violent extremist activity is child abuse and professionals and volunteers working with children and young people should follow their agency, and local area policies and procedure for the safeguarding of children when they have concerns that a child or young person is as at risk of, or is being, exploited in this way.

The direct or indirect grooming of children for involvement in any extremist activity causes harm, and professionals and volunteers working with children and families should be alert to the warning signs and intervene early to challenge and disrupt this process. Referrals to children's social care should be made where there are concerns that the child is at risk of harm and/or their health and development is likely to, or is being, impaired.

Advice regarding the assessment of risk in relation to extremism and support to identify appropriate interventions can be provided by Prevent Co-ordinators/Leads [every local authority has a lead]. However, if there is immediate cause for concern, then a referral to children's social care should be made.


Factors that may Lead to Extremism

The Channel guidance identifies the following as factors that may influence the decision of an individual to become involved in extremism:

However, the guidance goes on to state that:

… there is no single route to violent extremism nor is there a simple profile of those who become involved. For this reason, any attempt to derive a 'profile' can be misleading. It must not be assumed that these characteristics and experiences will necessarily lead to individuals becoming violent extremists, or that these indicators are the only source of information required to make an appropriate assessment about vulnerability.

Assessing Risk to Children and Young People

Please refer to the Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support for examples of indicators of need which show factors which escalate risk.

Children and young people may express support for extremist and/or terrorist organisations but it should be born in mind that, as with adults, they may express strong opinions without understanding those opinions and may also express entirely contradictory views at different times. The expression of strong and even offensive views on a range of issues can be a part of growing up – testing what it is ok to say/testing out ideas/provoking reactions/seeking to create a distinctive identity and rebelling against adults. For these reasons, it is important that professionals and volunteers consider a range of factors when assessing the risk in relation to a child who expresses or is reported to have expressed extremist views.

Concerns regarding a child may arise as a result of the following:

Concerns may lessen where:

Concerns may increase where:


Training and Awareness

It is the responsibility of all professionals and volunteers working with children and young people:

Workshop Raising Awareness of Prevent: WRAP3 training

WRAP is a Home Office training package designed for front-line staff in the private and public sector including; HR professionals, social services, the health sector, the education sector, the probation service, offender management units, family protection units, employment services and the housing sector. It provides an overview of the Prevent Strategy and ways of identifying individuals vulnerable to radicalisation, as well as those who radicalise. There are over 5000 WRAP 3 trained facilitators nationally, and over 500 are registered in London. The LSCBs should have details of all the locally trained facilitators and should be able to provide details of courses.


Responding to Concerns: Information Gathering and Monitoring

Professionals/volunteers may have concerns that a young person is at risk of being radicalised, but the concerns may be non-specific and could have arisen for a number of different reasons. These concerns might arise because something unusual happens or the young person's behaviour changes. For example:

For further examples see Tier 2 [Children with additional needs that can be met through the provision of 'early help] in the Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support.

In these circumstances, the professional/volunteer should:

Where the concerns escalate and there is a concern that the child is a child in need a referral should be made to LA children's social care. See Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support.


Responding to Concerns: When to Make Referrals to Local Authority Children's Social Care or the Police

Please refer to the Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support for examples of indicators of need which require a referral to local authority children's social care.

A young person should be referred to LA children's social where there are a cluster of vulnerabilities that may indicate the young person is being radicalised or there are one or two indicators which, on their own, escalate concerns. An example of a cluster of concerns that would require a referral to LA children's social care is:

See also Factors that may Lead to Extremism.

Examples of specific risks relating to radicalisation that on their own would require a referral to LA children's social care include:

If the child/young person is at immediate risk of harm, the matter should be reported to the police straight away. A referral should also be made to the local authority children's services.

Advice around specific cases can be provided by Prevent leads, local authority Prevent coordinators or police Prevent officers.

Referrals to LA children's social care should be made in accordance with Section 2, Referral and Assessment.

6.4

Local Authority Children's Social Care


Introduction

LA children's social care holds the lead responsibility for safeguarding children at risk as a result of extremist activity. The police hold the lead responsibility for the disruption and prosecution of perpetrators. The work to support children and young people at risk of, or being exploited for the purposes of involvement in extremist activity should be carried out in conjunction with the work to disrupt and/or prosecute perpetrators.

If a local authority is a Prevent priority authority it is important that the Prevent co-ordinator is also alerted to concerns – see Appendix A: Prevent Priority Authorities for a list of Prevent Priority authorities.

Assessment of, and planning for young people at risk of, or being exploited for the purposes of involvement in extremist activity, needs to be flexible and take account of each child's individuality, the uniqueness of his / her circumstances and the changes that may occur for him / her over time. This kind of exploitation is dynamic; the young person's circumstances can change and on occasions deteriorate very rapidly. All professionals should be aware that assessments need to be continual and display vigilance.


Risk of Travel to Conflict Zones

A key risk is that a child or young person may travel alone or with family and/or friends to a conflict zone to support or actively engage in extremist activities. They might also be taken as younger children by parents or carers who themselves intend to support or actively engage in extremist activities. Where this risk has been identified, children's social care should work with the police to minimise this risk. Action can include taking legal action to remove the child or young person's passport.

The government has also produced guidance for parents which explains how they can cancel their child's passport if they have concerns that they might be planning to travel to a conflict zone - see Cancelling the passport of a child at risk of radicalisation.


Responding to Contacts and Referrals 

When an individual or agency contacts children's social care regarding a child or young person they might not have the knowledge or expertise to identify the risk factors for radicalisation. Hence, children's social care should assess whether radicalisation is a risk for any child or young person even where it isn't raised by the person making contact.

In addition, where an individual or agency contacts LA children's social care regarding a child or young person who they identify as being at risk of, or as being, radicalised, LA children's social care should assess whether the information supplied indicates a risk of radicalisation. Where the information supplied clearly doesn't indicate risk factors, the person or agency who made contact should be informed of this and why. If no further information of risk is supplied and there are no other concerns for the child or young person, no further action will be taken.

Where radicalisation is identified as a potential risk, LA children's social care will carry out an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 to identify the child's level of risk and need for service provision and will advise the referrer of the outcome of this assessment:


Multi-agency Checks where there are Concerns Regarding Radicalisation

Where there are concerns regarding radicalisation the normal process of multi-agency checks is not sufficient, information should also be requested from the police Prevent Officer.


Taking Action when a Young Person is at Risk of Radicalisation

In cases where a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, LA children's social care must convene a strategy discussion meeting in order to determine whether child protection enquiries should be made in line with Section 3. Child Protection s47 Enquiries.

Multi-agency checks should be carried out in order that information held by different agencies can inform the Strategy Discussion/Meeting. These checks should include a request for any relevant information from the police Prevent lead.

The local authority Prevent lead should have input into the strategy discussion but action should not be delayed if s/he is not available. Other invitees should include the police, teacher, health professional, and any other significant involved professional

There are three possible outcomes of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting:

Child protection procedures may be more useful when the parents are thought to be neglectful or collusive with the radicalisation, but the reason for making a decision should always be recorded. Where it is decided that a child is at risk of radicalisation (suffering significant harm) but child protection procedures are not necessary this decision and the reason should be recorded on the child's file.

Where child protection processes are not needed but the 'child in need' threshold is met, the child should be made subject of a child in need plan. All CIN plans should be reviewed at 3 monthly intervals until it is no longer needed.

Whenever possible, the child and their parent/carer should be invited to CIN meetings. However, family attendance must be carefully assessed and only agreed if attendance will not compromise the child's safety or the progress of the investigation. The final decision should be taken by the child protection or team manager. This decision should be clearly recorded on the child's case file. 


Taking Action when the Child at Risk is in the Care of Local Authorities

When a referral is received regarding a child in care, the allocated social worker must inform their team manager and the above procedures should be followed. The local authority Prevent lead should be invited. Consideration should be given to inviting the fostering link worker, residential manager and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) to the strategy meeting.

The child's IRO will always be informed of new information and changes to placement and care plans. 

Where a strategy meeting is convened the meeting should consider:

If the child is in foster care, the social worker and fostering link worker should meet with the foster carer to discuss the outcome of the strategy meeting and the steps to be taken by the foster carer. This needs to take place in consultation with the fostering team manager.

The child's behaviour and attitude may be challenging, and carers and staff will require ongoing support, advice and training in knowing how to respond. These needs must be considered and resources identified, either by the manager of the residential unit or the fostering link worker.

Professionals and carers should be aware of their own position in relation to the child, e.g. male carers or staff may be viewed with suspicion or contempt. 

Placements outside of borough

It is sometimes necessary to place a young person outside of the borough. This can be because of the lack of availability of appropriate placements within the borough and also because of concern that the young person is at risk in the local area.

When a young person is placed outside of the borough, a risk assessment should be carried out and the receiving local authority notified of the move and provided with the risk assessment. Risk assessments should be informed by information from the local authority where the child is going to be placed and this may include liaising with the prevent co-ordinator.

Involvement of groups of children in care

Where there is knowledge or strong suspicion that children are involved in extremist activities, or are being controlled by the same person, there will need to be additional planning. The procedures outlined in the 'Organised and Complex Abuse' chapter should be followed.

It will be important to ensure that there are no inconsistencies between individual children's care plans. Where the placement is in another authority, or children from other authorities are involved, that authority's child protection manager (or equivalent) must be contacted, to discuss which authority is to take overall responsibility for convening the meeting and co-ordinating the response. 

Leaving care / aftercare

The same procedures as above should be followed in cases where young people in the leaving care team are considered to be at medium or high risk of abuse through radicalisation. 

The pathway plan for any young person where there are concerns about radicalisation should specifically identify their vulnerability to extremist ideology, and address the factors known to impede successful recovery from radicalisation (e.g. homelessness, poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities and lack of supportive social contacts).


6.5

Strategic Analysis and Oversight


Local Safeguarding Children Boards [Local SCBs]

The Prevent Duty Guidance in England and Wales [July 2015] emphasises the responsibility of the specified authorities listed (see Appendix A: Prevent Priority Authorities), to work in partnership with Local SCBs. Local SCBs will need to assure themselves that the local multi-agency partnership is effectively safeguarding children and young people from the risks associated with radicalisation.

An example of the type of work taking place in one London borough includes the following:

Appendix A: Prevent Priority Authorities


Barking and Dagenham Barnet Brent
Camden Ealing Enfield
Greenwich Hackney Hammersmith and Fulham
Haringey Hounslow Islington
Kensington and Chelsea Lambeth Lewisham
Newham Redbridge Southwark
Tower Hamlets Waltham Forest Wandsworth
Westminster    

 

Appendix B: Channel Guidance – further information


The Multi-Agency Channel Panel

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 [Chapter 2] provides that each local authority must have a panel to provide support for people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. This puts the existing voluntary programme for people at risk of radicalisation on a statutory footing (in England and Wales this is the "Channel Programme").

The role of the multi-agency panel is to develop an appropriate support package to safeguard those at risk of being drawn in to extremism based on an assessment of their vulnerability.

Depending on the nature of the case the panel may include the following:

Channel Guidance

Channel is part of the Prevent strategy. The process is a multi-agency approach to identify and provide support to individuals who are at risk of being drawn into terrorism.

Click here to view:

Channel Guidance - GOV.UK website

Channel Awareness Training

Channel: Protecting Vulnerable People from being Drawn into Terrorism - A guide for local partnerships [October 2012]

Appendix C: Resources


Government policy: Protecting the UK against terrorism

Contest

The government's counter terrorism strategy is called CONTEST; the link below leads you to the main documents that explain how the UK will react to terrorist threats or emergencies.

The strategy is based on 4 areas of work:

Prevent Strategy

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Home Department by Command of Her Majesty June 2011 [7]

The Prevent Duty Guidance – including for further education institutions

[7] Other resources relating to the review of the Prevent Strategy can be found at:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-strategy-2011


Government Policy: Safeguarding children

Cancelling the passport of a child at risk of radicalisation

This guide explains how you can request the cancellation of the passport of a child under 16 at risk of radicalisation.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015

Statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Information Sharing Advice

Department of Education advice about information sharing, for people who provide safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers.  

What to do if you're worried a child is being abused

Departmental advice to help practitioners identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and understand what action to take.


Guidance for schools and colleges

Keeping children safe in education

Statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children and safer recruitment. Available at: Keeping children safe in Education.

Protecting children from radicalisation: the prevent duty

Departmental advice for schools and childcare providers on preventing children and young people from being drawn into terrorism.

Guidance on promoting British values in schools

Strengthened guidance on improving the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.