Prevent Radicalisation and Extremism by Acting Early
It can be hard to know what to do if you’re worried someone close is expressing extreme views or hatred, which could lead to them harming themselves or others. Working with other organisations, the police protect vulnerable people from being exploited by extremists through a Home Office programme called Prevent.
Act early and tell us your concerns in confidence. You won’t be wasting our time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them.
Spotting the signs of radicalisation
More important than any one sign is the feeling that something is not right. Friends and family are often the first to spot worrying changes taking place. These can be big or small changes that take place very quickly or over a longer period. Trust your instincts and if you’re concerned seek advice.
Real stories of radicalisation
Other people have gone through similar experiences and have been supported by the Home Office Prevent programme. Working together with other organisations we’ve helped many of them choose a different pathway.
These are real examples of people we’ve helped.
It’s hard for me to write this letter, as there are many things I want to say, to the me that I was back then.
I get that you just wanted to belong, I really do. I know how tough it was to feel like an outsider, not to feel like you fitted in anywhere. You felt like life was going nowhere, no one wanted to know a kid with bad grades and a record of bad behaviour. It seems no one really believed in you or saw your potential. Then someone made you feel heard. A friend who felt just the same as you, who really ‘got’ you. He talked about the reasons things were going wrong, for you, for him, other friends, family. It seemed to make sense. He talked about immigrants, injustice and race. And you listened without questioning. I wish you hadn’t.
Instead, you started to speak just like him and I wish you hadn’t.
You met more new friends online who shared the same views as you. And worse. They lied to you John. They made you feel welcome. You didn’t realise they were just using you. The dangers of extremism wasn’t something you understood, you only began to realise a while later. You felt part of something for the first time in a long time and it felt good. It felt good to be with them, to take part in extremist rallies, to share a voice. It made you feel powerful and gave you a sense of purpose, when before you had nothing and felt you were going nowhere.
Your old friends and family didn’t understand, they didn’t ‘get’ you. I wish you had pressed pause and looked around to see the hurt and upset you were causing then. Now it’s clear how angry you were, and scared. Too scared to choose another path, despite some of the opinions and content not sitting well with you. I wish you had seen how you were beginning not to belong, with those who really did care about you. Who wanted you to lead your best life, not your worst.
Back then, you didn’t know that you could choose your own path, that you didn’t need to follow people you thought had your best interests at heart, but who really were using you for their own agenda. I wish you had realised then, that they didn’t speak for you. They don’t speak for anyone who wants a better world.
You got so far in, you didn’t know how to get back out.
It was scary I know, to turn your back on those preaching hate, those who are just looking to others to blame for things that go wrong in life. But you did it John. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for taking up the offer of support and the chance to turn your life around.
And it was hard.
So hard to have your views challenged, to hear some of the facts you had been told by your new ‘friends’ weren’t even true. So hard to no longer belong to a group of people you felt had welcomed you in, online and off.
It took time, but you did it and look how far you’ve come.
Now you are supporting other people who want to escape extremism. And you get them, you know the struggle they are going through.
You never thought you could change people’s lives for the better, but with support you did it and I am proud of the you, that I have now become.
Here to help