What are the stages of radicalisation?

Think about radicalisation as a process of change where a person undergoes a transformation over a period of time. This can be a gradual change or because of the increasing threat of online radicalisation, one that can also happen quite fast.

But because it is a process, it means there can be ‘entry points’ or times where it’s possible to intervene and support the person to choose a more positive pathway. The earlier this happens the better, as it means the person can get the support they need to turn things around before it’s too late.

What can trigger someone to become radicalised?

Sometimes there is a significant event or incident that can trigger a person and make them more receptive to extreme views. It can take multiple forms and include:

  • A personal crisis like losing a job
  • Not getting a job
  • The feeling of being left behind, alienated or apart from everyone else
  • Or it can be triggered by an outside event, like a terror attack here or in another country

There are many factors this is not an exhaustive list.

Radicalisation as a four stage process

Radicalisation has been described as a four stage process:-


The person joins or identifies with a group or organisation



The person believes and accepts the beliefs and views held by the group or organisation



The person is groomed by the group or organisation pulling them further down the pathway



The person becomes involved in committing terrorist acts

Propaganda and extremist content online

Radicalisers are using the internet to target, persuade and recruit vulnerable people. They do this by posting extreme and often violent images, messages, speeches and videos on social media, private messaging platforms, gaming platforms and forums.

They use a number of tactics to recruit people including actively spreading fake news, which has been created to exploit people’s worries and insecurities. They will also look to distort news stories about unemployment or homelessness for example, and start to build their own narrative around it.

What is the difference between fake news and extreme content or hateful posts?

Fake news and misinformation can contribute to the way people see themselves and others and it’s important to take steps to address issues when they arise. This is because it can sometimes be the ‘hook’ that draws people into supporting extreme groups and activities if it goes unchecked.

For tips and advice on how to talk about fake news and misinformation including a test your knowledge quiz check out Internet Matters


The radicaliser can make them feel they have a purpose in life. They seem like a brotherhood, we are all in this together kind of thing. Then they highlight the injustice and spur them to take action. It can be to share posts on social media or more violent acts.

Abdul, Intervention Provider.

How can you report extremist content you’ve seen online?

If you see online graphic or violent extremist material or content that supports, directs or glorifies terrorism please report it using our anonymous online reporting form.

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