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Police: Be wise to the signs of radicalisation

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For Week 3 of the national Action Counters Terrorism campaign Nottinghamshire Police are focusing on online extremism.

Whether it is someone making comments or promoting extremist attitudes via social media, someone viewing terror-related content or videos over the Internet, or someone you suspect may be being radicalised online, officers want to hear about it.

East Midlands Prevent, comprising police, local authorities and other agencies, works with families, schools, the health service, faith groups and other community organisations to safeguard people from being drawn into terrorism or showing support for extremism by identifying susceptibilities and intervening early.

Radicalisation is an exploitation of the vulnerable, often younger, members of society.

It’s a form of “recruitment”, by grooming or brainwashing a person into supporting terrorism or extremist ideologies and sanctioning the use of violence.

So, what are the signs?

Has the person shown a sudden change in behaviour, whether acting out or retreating into themselves? This could be spending more time alone in their room, on the computer or their mobile devices, and severing contact with friends.

Perhaps they have made comments, whether in person or online, suggesting a growing change in attitude, radical views or a sudden sympathy or affiliation for extremist right wing, religious or political ideologies.

Chief Inspector Bill Knopp is from the East Midlands Special Operation Unit’s Special Branch (EMSOU-SB) and leads on Prevent on behalf of the region. He said: “A report late last year suggested that people in the UK access jihadist propaganda more than any other country in Europe, and are the fifth largest audience in the world for extremist content. We know it’s happening and we need your help to identify those perpetuating it.

“Grooming for the purposes of terrorism has similar warning signs to that of grooming for sexual exploitation. All subtle but when put together can paint a clearer picture.

“It’s much easier to recognise the indicators in retrospect, but by then it can be too late. The recent case of the 17-year-old boy from Cardiff, who was within hours of committing an attack when he was arrested, shows us just how quickly someone can become radicalised.

“So let’s be wiser to the methods and, more importantly, switched-on to the signs. Don’t ignore them in hopes they will go away. Act now. The sooner, the better.

“Under the Prevent programme we do not jump to conclusions, we do not pass judgement and we do not seek to criminalise people. We are simply here to support and help steer people away from a dangerous and potentially harmful path.

“We are all responsible for safeguarding our communities and Prevent has the expertise and resources to show you the way.”

If you know someone who may be at risk of radicalisation, report it to your local Prevent team via 101. To report in your professional capacity, contact your organisation’s designated safeguarding lead.

If you see someone endorsing extremism over the Internet report it online or call 0800 789 321. All reports are kept confidential and can be made anonymously. In an emergency, always dial 999.