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Radicalisation and extremism

Prevent strategy

Prevent is one strand of the UK’s wider counter-terrorism strategy known as CONTEST.

The latest CONTEST factsheet was updated on 18 July 2023.

The strands of the strategy are:

  • Prevent – aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by safeguarding people and communities
  • Pursue –  is concerned with the apprehension and arrest of people suspected of being engaged in the planning, preparation or commissioning of terrorism
  • Protect – seeks to strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack and reduce our vulnerability to an attack
  • Prepare – mitigates the impact of a terrorist attack where an attack cannot be stopped

The purpose of Prevent is to safeguard and support people to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism of any form.

It aims to:

  • tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism
  • safeguard and support those most at risk of radicalisation through early intervention, identifying them and offering support
  • enable those who have already engaged in terrorism to disengage and rehabilitate

What is Prevent and what does it do?

Prevent is a service which provides non-compulsory safeguarding support to people who have the final say of accepting support or not

Prevent is about safeguarding, in the same way support is provided to those at risk of becoming involved in gangs, drugs, exploitation, or other forms of harm. Individuals susceptible to being groomed into terrorism can also be offered support.

Prevent operates within a non-criminal space, intending to pre-empt criminal activity. This ensures the protection of communities and not its criminalisation. Those who receive support from Prevent do not receive a criminal record.

What does the Prevent team do?

The Prevent team work closely with local community and voluntary groups to co-deliver support including:

  • training and supporting frontline staff and specified authorities on issues including:
    • radicalisation
    • extremism
    • terrorism and support mechanisms to recognise when someone may be at risk and can respond appropriately. Whether this occurs through training, discussion or debate, it is essential to how we work.
  • regularly seeking to promote discussion and debate. We organise events such as free training, workshops and community questions and answers.
  • offering support, guidance and advice to those working in the education sector, through our Lead Safeguarding Advisor, Education

What is Channel and how does it support Prevent?

Channel is the safeguarding panel which supports Prevent. It is led by the local authority and is a programme which focuses on supporting people at an early stage who are identified as susceptible to being drawn into terrorism.

Channel ensures people are able to receive support before they are exploited by those wanting them to embrace terrorist related activity.

Channel is a confidential and voluntary process where multi-agency safeguarding professionals meet to discuss support options. These support options encompass an array of different interventions, addressing educational, vocational, mental health, and other vulnerabilities.

Ideological support is also common, which may include discussion with credible ideological experts and faith leaders.

Current threat level

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack.

There are 5 levels of threat:

  • low: an attack is unlikely
  • moderate: an attack is possible but not likely
  • substantial: an attack is a strong possibility
  • severe: an attack is highly likely
  • critical: an attack is expected imminently

The level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service (MI5). Threat levels don’t have an expiry date; they can change at any time as different information becomes available to security agents.

The current threat from terrorism can be viewed on the MI5 website.

Threat levels in themselves do not require specific responses from the public. Sharing national threat levels with the general public keeps everyone informed. It explains the context for the various security measures, for example, airport security or bag searches, which we may encounter in our daily lives.

The police and the security and intelligence agencies depend on information from the public. You should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and can help to keep yourself, your family and your local community safe by reporting any suspicious activity.

If anything gives you cause for concern, do not rely on someone else, act on it yourself.

Seeking support, advice or help

Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies. If you are worried someone close to you is becoming radicalised, act early and seek help. The sooner you reach out, the quicker the person you care about can be protected from being groomed and exploited by extremists.

Both the police and local authorities have specially trained staff who work with professionals in a variety of sectors to support vulnerable people move away from extremism. They are here to listen and offer help and advice.

Friends and family are best placed to spot the signs, so trust your instincts and share your concerns in confidence.

We can help if you act early. You won't be wasting time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them. Receiving support is voluntary.

To find out more about how to help someone close to you, visit the Act Early website

The RED button allows anyone to anonymously report online extremist or terrorism related material directly to the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

You can also report online content via the Anti-Terrorist hotline on 0800 789321 or on the Government website

If you come across extremist graffiti, stickers or posters, don't touch them. Photograph what you have seen and report it to the police on 101.

Swindon Prevent contacts

If you have concerns about someone and would like more advice contact:

Any information, advice or concern will be handled with sensitivity and where possible anonymity will be maintained. 

Example of offensive extremism behaviour

Image showing example of an offensive extremism poster attached to a post

If you find a sticker or poster (similar to the one shown), photograph it in situ and then if possible, take it down.

You should pass the following to the Police:

  • details of the location 
  • the time and date the sticker/poster was removed
  • the number of stickers/posters 
  • a copy of the photograph

Online material

You can also report illegal or harmful information, pictures or videos you’ve found on the internet such as:

  • articles, images, speeches or videos that promote terrorism or encourage violence
  • content encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism
  • websites made by terrorist or extremist organisations
  • videos of terrorist attacks

Run, hide, tell

In the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack:

  • run to a place of safety. This is a better option than to surrender or negotiate.
  • hide and remember to turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can.
  • tell the police by calling 999 when it is safe to do so

Police have released a video telling people to “run, hide, tell”  if they are caught up in a terrorist gun attack. The 4 minute video advises on how to evacuate a building, where to hide, and what information to tell police.

Please take a moment to watch this video. If you are caught up in an attack, it could save your life.

You can also access free, eLearning on the Prevent duty training: Learn how to support people vulnerable to radicalisation webpage.