A new counter terrorism safeguarding website has been launched by Counter Terrorism Policing, offering advice, guidance and support to people concerned about relatives being radicalised.It comes as police warn the Covid lockdown is creating a "perfect storm" for vulnerable young people to be radicalised online.Watch @krisjepson's report here:
Parents, friends and families can now get specialist support to stop their loved ones being radicalised and drawn into extreme groups. The new website Act Early, provides dedicated safeguarding pages and advice line from the specialists at Counter Terrorism Policing.The website has been produced because only 2 per cent of referrals to the government's anti-radicalisation programme, Prevent, come from family and friends. Police say they are the best placed people to step in at an early stage of radicalisation.
We’ve seen specific instances of various extremist groups targeting specifically young people. In the North East this has included far right groups, but there are also al Qaeda and Daesh groups that are similarly targeting young people. The website itself is a raft of information, all sorts of different support services, such as the signs to look out for.
In the 18 months leading up to 30 June this year, 17 children were arrested in relation to terrorism offences.
Some were as young as 14 years old, while nearly all will have been radicalised entirely online. In the same time period, more than 1,500 children under the age of 15 were helped by the Prevent programme to choose a different path, away from hatred and violence.
Experts in extremist groups say the current lockdown situation is enabling recruiters to access young people in order to radicalise them.
We’re all feeling a sense of isolation and what we’re seeking when we are isolated is to find communities and one of the communities that people could find online are radical right communities or extremist communities and young people are particularly vulnerable to this and so I think that’s why it’s being described as a ‘perfect storm’ and it feels like a perfect storm for many people.
One Teesside based group impacted by the pandemic is Media Cultured.
Run by Amjid Khazir from Middlesbrough, the organisation delivers education and training to young people, businesses and teachers to help counter racism and extremism.
We’re currently delivering workshops remotely to smaller numbers, but it has a real impact on the interactivity of the lessons, so if there are views there that we have to challenge and have a group discussion, with Covid and the pandemic and not being on site, has made that a really difficult process for us now.
Counter Terrorism Policing said if you are worried that someone you know is being radicalised, visit www.actearly.uk or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764.