Digital safety during lockdown
Due to COVID-19 and lockdown measures, government have outlined their priorities to mitigate online radicalisation risks during this time. These include:
- Encouraging people to practice digital safety so that vulnerable individuals are less exposed to online harm.
- Increasing awareness of the signs of radicalisation, enabling people to make informed choices.
- Signposting parents, carers, family and friends to Prevent, or other appropriate safeguarding services.
The latest advice emphases the role of safeguarding and embedding measures to protect against online radicalisation within the context of broader digital safety (such as CSE or fraud).
For advice on Prevent management support during school closures, the DfE have published a new blog post on Educate against hate
What is Prevent
Leicestershire’s Prevent Strategy is a counter-terrorism programme aimed at safeguarding our communities and preventing extremism by supporting those who may be targeted by extremists trying to recruit or radicalise them.
Managed by our Community Safety team, the strategy has been developed in response to the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015), the Government's Prevent Strategy, designed to stop people from supporting or becoming involved in both violent and non-violent extremism.
For more information, please see the Home Office’s video, which provides an introduction to how Prevent works.
What is Channel
Channel is a multi-agency safeguarding programme, which offers help and guidance to people who may be at risk of being draw in to terrorism.
Whilst there is no single profile of a person susceptible to grooming by extremists, organisations often try to recruit people who are easily influenced or vulnerable, both in person and online. Channel works to protect vulnerable people from becoming involved in extremist-related activity by:
- identifying those most at risk
- assessing the nature and extent of that risk
- developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned
- providing help with mental health, emotional and drug or alcohol abuse issues, as well as education and career advice
Early intervention is key and if the signs are spotted early and acted upon, it not only safeguards the person concerned, but also helps to protect those living and working in the county.
More information can be found on the Channel guidance
How you can help
Prevent relies on community support and information to identify and protect people. If you are concerned that a friend, neighbour or relative is at risk of being exploited or becoming involved in terrorism or extremist activity, you should inform your local authority or the police.
To make a police referral, please get in touch with Leicestershire Police
For any concerns you may have about an adult who may be at risk of radicalisation, please contact our Adult Social Care team.
If you have concerns about the exploitation of a young person, please contact the First Response Children’s Duty team.
The NSPCC have launched a free 24-hour service for adults who need advice on how to talk to their children about issues related to radicalisation and terrorism. If you’re worried, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website.
Act Early is dedicated to helping friends and family of potentially vulnerable individuals spot the signs. If you're worried about someone close to you, it's important that you act early and share any concerns in confidence - you won’t be wasting anyones time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them.
There is no exhaustive checklist of warnings signs that would indicate that someone is being groomed online, but some things to look out for may include:
- isolation from family and friends
- increased secrecy, accessing extreme material, refusal to say who they are talking to
- using the dark web or anonymous browsing to hide online activity
- interest in conspiracy theories and/or changes in social media profiles
If you have concerns that someone is being exposed to extremism, you can find further advice on the Let’s Talk About It website and you can report any online material promoting terrorism or extremism
Advice and support for practitioners
When seeking advice from a professional capacity, please check any concerns you have with the Designated Safeguarding Lead within your organisation.
In England, governing bodies including schools and registered childcare providers should ensure that their safeguarding arrangements take into account the policies and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
Local multiagency safeguarding procedures regarding prevent and radicalisation for adults can be accessed through the Leicestershire Safeguarding Adults Board and for safeguarding children, from the Leicester and the Leicestershire and Rutland Safeguarding Children Partnership
Schools and childcare providers should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation. General safeguarding principles apply to keeping children safe from the risk of radicalisation as set out in the relevant statutory guidance, working together to safeguard children and keeping children safe in education
You can also access Home Office e-learning on Prevent awareness and Channel awareness