3.4.3 Children Vulnerable to or from Extremism


This guidance is intended to provide a clear framework for all professionals working with children for whom there are concerns that they are at risk of becoming involved in violent extremist activity.


DfE helpline for anyone concerned about a child who may be at risk of extremism, or about extremism within an organisation working with children and young people. E-mail: counter.extremism@education.gov.uk. Telephone: 020 7340 7264.

Educate Against Hate website.

Guidance - Prevent Duty Self-assessment Tool: Further Education - self-assessment tool to assist colleges and providers in the further education and skills (FE) sector in England to review their Prevent responsibilities.


In March 2022, a link was added to Guidance - Prevent Duty Self-assessment Tool: Further Education.

1. Introduction

From 1 July 2015 all schools and child care providers must have regard to the statutory guidance issued under section 29 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 - Guidance on the Duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to have Due Regard to the Need to Prevent People from Being Drawn into Terrorism. Paragraphs 57-76 of the guidance are concerned specifically with schools and childcare providers; registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, in the exercise of their functions to have 'due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism'. This duty is known as the Prevent duty. It applies to a wide range of public-facing bodies which are listed in schedule 6 of the Act as specified authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. The specified authorities are those judged to have a role of protection vulnerable children, young people and adults and/or the national security. The Prevent Strategy, published by the Government in 2011, is part of an overall counter terrorism strategy called CONTEST. The aim of the Prevent Strategy is to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. In addition, the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 sections 36 to 41 sets out the duty on local authorities and partners to establish and cooperate with a local Channel programme of 'Channel Panels' to provide support for people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It is essential that Channel Panel members and their partners ensure that children and young people are protected from harm.

The current threat from terrorism in the United Kingdom can involve the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children, young people and vulnerable adults to involve them in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism.

The Local Authority in Sheffield and South Yorkshire Police, agree that this exploitation should be viewed as a safeguarding concern and should be approached in the same way as safeguarding children from other risks.

This guidance is intended to provide a clear framework for all professionals working with children for whom there are concerns that they are at risk of becoming involved in violent extremist activity.

It includes the link between safeguarding procedures and the Channel programme, and provides a mechanism for supporting those who may be vulnerable to violent extremism by assessing the nature and the extent of the potential risk and, where necessary, providing an appropriate support package.

2. Definitions

Violent Extremism is defined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as:

"The demonstration of unacceptable behaviour by using any means or medium to express views, which:

  • Encourage, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs;
  • Seek to provoke others to terrorist acts;
  • Encourage other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts;
  • Foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK."

There are a number of offences that can be considered when dealing with violent extremism. They include offences arising through spoken words, creation of tapes and videos of speeches, internet entries, chanting, banners and written notes and publications.

The main offences employed to date have been soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership recognises the government position that Violent Extremism inspired by any ideology, which advocates a distorted version of Islam, is considered to be the greater threat to the UK by the security services. However, it is necessary to protect children and young people against the messages of all violent extremism including that linked to a Far Right / Neo Nazi / White Supremacist ideology, Irish Nationalist and Loyalist paramilitary groups, and that linked to Animal Rights movements.

3. Legislative and Policy Framework

The following legislation and policies have provided the framework for this safeguarding protocol:

4. Information Sharing and Confidentiality

There is a statutory duty for workers to share information where there are concerns about the safety or well-being of a child or vulnerable adult. Protecting children and young people from radicalisation and extremism requires careful assessment and working collaboratively across agencies as initially concerns may be inconclusive. Sharing information effectively and keeping the child and young person in focus should be the main aim of any interventions and services.

  • The Data Protection Act 2018;
  • The Human Rights Act 1998;
  • The Common Law Duty of Confidence;
  • The Crime and Disorder Act 1998;
  • The Children Act 2004 Sections 10 and 11;
  • The Caldicott Principles.

All information sharing must be conducted in accordance with a relevant legal power of duty, and be proportionate and relevant to the circumstances presented.

For further detailed guidance, see Information Sharing Procedure.

5. Identification

There is no such thing as a 'typical extremist' and those involved in extremism come from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

Most individuals, even those who hold radical views, do not become involved in violent extremism. Holding extreme views is not illegal, but inciting a person to commit an act in the name of any belief is in itself an offence.

Numerous factors can contribute to and influence the range of behaviours that are defined as violent extremism. It is important to consider these factors in order to develop an understanding of the issue. It is also necessary to understand those factors that build resilience and protect individuals from engaging in violent extremist activity.

It is important to be cautious in assessing these factors to avoid inappropriately labelling or stigmatising individuals because they possess a characteristic or fit a specific profile.

It is vital that all professionals who have contact with vulnerable individuals are able to recognise those vulnerabilities and help to increase safe choices and remember that violent behaviour operates on many levels in the absence of protective factors and that individuals largely act within the context of their environment and experiences.

Research shows that indicators that may make an individual vulnerable to radicalisation can include:

  • Identity Crisis - Distance from cultural / religious heritage and uncomfortable with their place in the society around them;
  • Personal Crisis - Family tensions; sense of isolation; adolescence; low self-esteem; disassociating from existing friendship group and becoming involved with a new and different group of friends; searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging;
  • Personal Circumstances - Migration; local community tensions; events affecting country or region of origin; alienation from UK values; having a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of Government policy;
  • Unmet Aspirations - Perceptions of injustice; feeling of failure; rejection of civic life;
  • Criminality - Experiences of imprisonment; poor resettlement/reintegration; previous involvement with criminal groups.

However, this list is not exhaustive, nor does it mean that all young people experiencing the above are at risk of exploitation for the purposes of violent extremism.

More critical risk factors could include:

  • Being in contact with known extremists or extremist recruiters;
  • Articulating support for violent extremist causes or leaders;
  • Accessing violent extremist websites, especially those with a social networking element;
  • Possessing or accessing violent extremist literature;
  • Using inappropriate language, extremist narratives and a global ideology to explain personal disadvantage;
  • Justifying the use of violence to solve societal issues;
  • Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations;
  • Seeking to recruit others into extremist ideology;
  • Significant changes to appearance and/or behaviour;
  • Changes in friends and mode of dress.

Each agency will have been asked to identify a Prevent Single Point of Contact (SPOC) who will be the lead within the organisation for safeguarding in relation to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism. Any individual who has a concern that a child is at risk of extremism should discuss the matter with the safeguarding lead or the Single Point of Contact within their organisation.

The SPOC should offer advice and guidance about the appropriateness of making a referral to Children's Social Care and/or undertaking integrated working processes, such as the Common Assessment Framework, to better understand the issue and gather additional information.

If, at any stage, it is felt that the individual poses an immediate danger to themselves or any other person, the police should be called immediately.

If the concerns about an individual are not serious, the Safeguarding Lead / Prevent SPOC may decide that they can be addressed by action within the organisation. In this case, the organisation should take the appropriate action to address any concerns, and review whether the concerns remain after this.

If the Safeguarding Lead / Prevent SPOC consider that the concerns relating to an individual are more significant, and require a multi-agency response, they should:

  • Refer their concerns to the Police;
  • Make a referral to Children's Social Care - Where an assessment has already been undertaken (e.g. for a FCAF) this may be used to supplement the referral.

Actions of Children's Social Care

A concern that a child is at of or from radicalisation or extremism should be screened in and treated like any other concern about a child at risk of harm with the referrer receiving notification as to what action will be taken.

If the matter reaches the threshold for involvement of Children's Social Care a referral will be progressed and a strategy meeting instigated.

Should the threshold for Children's Social Care involvement not be met the screening team will record the contact about the child and Children's Social Care will convene a meeting involving relevant partner agencies to look at what intervention is necessary to promote the child's welfare.

Should a child's vulnerability be assessed as such that local service provision is insufficient to reduce the risk a Channel Panel meeting will be convened to consideration engaging a specialist intervention from a Home Office accredited provider. The Channel Panel will monitor and review the effectiveness of any interventions agreed.