Radicalisation and extremism

Find out the difference between radicalisation and extremism

What is extremism?

Sometimes when people have very strong views they become extreme. This means the views they are expressing go beyond what the majority of people think are OK to hold. When someone is becoming more extreme in their views, they become increasingly intolerant of other people’s opinions when they oppose or challenge their own.

This can be very challenging for the friends and family who care about them and are worried about the path they are going down.

Why do some people hold extreme views?

Any belief or view can be vulnerable to extreme interpretation and there are many reasons that can contribute to someone holding extreme views. These include belief in ideologies and religions, or prejudice against certain groups, genders or faiths. If you want to know more about the signs to look for you can find information here.

It can be hard to know what to do if someone you know or care about is expressing extreme views or hatred. Having a conversation with them can be difficult if the person does not agree that something is wrong. You can find some tips to help you have a conversation here. Not all extremists become violent extremists, but some do. The person you care about can be supported to move away from extremism if you act early and share your concerns.

What is violent extremism?

Violent extremism is when people threaten or use violence in support of their own agenda or to further their own set of beliefs. Working with other organisations, the police protect vulnerable people from being exploited by extremists through a Home Office programme called Prevent. But we can only help to turn things around if the person has not committed any criminal acts.

So it’s really important to share your concerns early. If you’ve tried to speak to the person you are worried about and are still feeling concerned, then we would encourage you to reach out for some advice and support. By acting early you can help protect the person you care about and get the help they need to move away from extremism.


There is not much difference between Islamism extremism and Extreme Right Wing. The mind-set is the same, one uses racism to despise groups and the other uses religion to despise groups.

W. Joseph, Intervention Provider.

What is radicalisation?

Radicalisation is the word commonly used to describe the mental process the person is going through as they get drawn down a dangerous path.

If someone is becoming radicalised it means they are displaying extreme views in support of extreme ideologies or beliefs, terrorist groups and activities.

It can be hard to spot if someone is becoming radicalised, as some of the signs are indicators of other underlying issues, or challenges that are not connected to radicalisation.

But we know friends and family are best placed to spot any changes in behaviour. If you’re worried they are vulnerable then reach out and speak to someone. If you’d rather not talk directly to us, there are other people who can listen and who can help. This could be your GP, a faith or community leader, your local authority or a teacher.

Frequently asked questions

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The stages of radicalisation