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Prevent / Channel Referral Process

The 'Prevent Duty' was established under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) and requires responsible authorities to 'have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism in the exercise of their duties'. This includes those working with children, young people and vulnerable adults.


1. Introduction

1.1 Prevent is a strand of the Government’s counter terrorism strategy CONTEST that aims to stop people from being drawn into terrorism by:

  • Challenging the spread of terrorist ideology
  • Supporting vulnerable people from being radicalised and drawn into terrorism
  • Working with key institutions where there are risks of radicalisation

1.2 All agencies, not just the police, have an important role to play in preventing terrorism. The‘Prevent Duty’ established under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) requires responsible authorities to ‘have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism in the exercise of their duties’ .

1.3 This duty includes requires those working with children, young people and adults are trained to understand the risk of terrorism in the local area; are able to identify when an individual is at risk of radicalisation; and know how to respond when a risk is identified by making a PREVENT referral.

1.4 Prevent is a national programme delivered at a local level based on the risks identified in each local authority area. Cleveland Police develop a Counter terrorism Local Profile (CTLP) which is shared with operational groups in each local authority area.

1.5 Government guidance on the Prevent Duty can be found here

2. What do we mean by Terrorism/Extremism?

2.1 Terrorism covers all forms of extremism both violent and non-violent and is defined in the national Prevent Strategy as any vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.

2.2 Prevent covers both international and domestic terrorist threats, and includes the activities of Extreme/Far Right groups, Left Wing, Anarchist, Single Issue Terrorist (LASIT) and animal rights groups.

3. What do we mean by Radicalisation?

3.1 Radicalisation is the process by which people come to support terrorism and extremism and, in some cases, participate in terrorist groups.

4. Understanding and Recognising Risks and Vulnerabilities of Terrorism or Extremism

4.1  There is no obvious profile / single indicator of a person likely to become involved in extremismor adopt violence in support of extremist ideas. The process of radicalisation is different for every individual and can take place over an extended period or within a very short time frame. Safeguarding from extremism is no different to how practitioners would share a concern about drugs, physical and sexual abuse or any other form of criminality.

4.2 Children, young people and adults can be drawn into violence or exposed to messages from extremist groups by many means. These can include; exposure through the influence of family members or friends and /or direct contact with extreme groups and organisations or increasingly, through the internet. This can put individuals at risk of being drawn into criminal activity and subjected to significant harm by exposure to, or involvement with, groups or individuals who advocate violence as a means to a political or ideological end. Examples of extremist causes that have used violence to achieve their ends include, Extreme/Far Right groups, Left Wing, Anarchist, Single Issue Terrorist (LASIT) and animal rights groups, internal terrorist and international terrorist organisations.

4.3 Most individuals, even those who hold radical views do not become involved in extremism. Numerous factors can contribute to and influence the range of behaviours that are defined as extremism. It is important to consider these factors in order to develop an understanding of the issue. It is also necessary to understand those factors that build resilience and protect individuals from engaging in violent extremist activity.

4.4 The following indicators may support professionals to understand and identify factors that may suggest an adult, young person or their family could be vulnerable to being drawn into extremism;

  • Identity crisis – distance from culture, religious heritage and uncomfortable with their place in the society around them.
  • Personal crisis – family tensions, sense of isolation, adolescence low self-esteem, disassociation from existing friendship groups and becoming involved with a new and different group of friends searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging.
  • Personal circumstances – migration, local community tensions, events affecting Country and region of origin, alienation from UK values having a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of Government policy, unmet aspirations, perceptions of injustice, perceived grievance, feeling of failure, rejection of civic life, criminality, experiences of imprisonment, poor resettlement, reintegration, previous involvement with criminal groups.

4.5 It is however important to note that children and young people may display behaviours indicative of radicalisation for other reasons including:

  • alcohol
  • drug abuse
  • family breakdown / bereavement
  • domestic abuse

4.6 The process of radicalisation is different for every individual and can take place over an extended period or within a very short time frame. Potential indicators of radicalisation may include:

  • Use of inappropriate language
  • Possession or accessing violent extremist literature
  • Behavioural changes
  • The expression of extremist views
  • Advocating violent actions and means
  • Association with known extremists
  • Articulating support for violent extremist causes or leaders
  • Using extremist views to explain personal disadvantage
  • Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations
  • Seeking to recruit others to an extremist ideology

4.7 It is important to be cautious in assessing these factors to avoid inappropriate labelling or stigmatising individuals because they possess a characteristic to fit a specific profile. The risk of radicalisation is the product of a number of factors and identifying this risk requires practitioners to exercise their professional judgements and seek further advice where necessary as it may be combined with other vulnerabilities that need to be considered. There is no such thing as a typical extremist and those involved in extremism come from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

5. How to make a Prevent referral

5.1 When a practitioner identifies a risk or has a concern about the vulnerability of an individual in relation to radicalisation, the organisations safeguarding processes must be followed and the Prevent Lead / Safeguarding Team informed. 

5.2 This must then be reported to the Cleveland Police Prevent Officer by completing the Prevent Referral Form and sending it to Prevent.Contest@cleveland.pnn.police.uk. The Cleveland Police Prevent Officer will respond to all referrals and will undertake preliminary investigations and assess the level of threat and risk posed by the individual and / or their family. All referrals are logged on the Prevent National database.

5.3 The Cleveland Police Prevent office is resourced 0800 to 1600 Monday to Friday (Tel: 01642 301332) and can be contacted for advice before sending the referral where needed. Outside of those hours contact is via 101 and Cleveland Police control room will assess the concerns and forward to the on call Prevent Officer if required.

5.4 Not all cases will require further action however; there are occasions when risk may be perceived to be immediate, where the information must be reported immediately to the police who will then coordinate with the relevant local authority in taking the most appropriate action to ensure the safety of the child/adult at risk.

5.5 PREVENT referrals to the Police do not require consent. Hoverer the process is voluntary and the subject must consent to engage. Irrespective of whether the subject consents to engage the fundamental Police checks and safeguarding measures will be put in place.  

5.6 Where the level of risk or vulnerability to radicalisation is substantiated, the Cleveland Police Prevent Officer will contact the Prevent Lead in the relevant local authority and request that a Channel Panel is convened to monitor the risk and to develop a support plan for the individual.

5.7 If there is a reason to believe that the child, young person or adult associates with those known to be involved in extremism either because they associate directly with known individuals or because they frequent key locations where these individuals are known to operate, there is a need to refer in to the Channel Panel process.

5.8 If additional safeguarding concerns exist for a child or young person, a Safer Referral Form should be completed and sent to the relevant local authority (as detailed on the form).  If additional safeguarding concerns exist for a vulnerable adult, a Teeswide Inter-agency Adult Safeguarding Concern Form should be completed and sent to the relevant local authority (as detailed on the form).   Referrals / concerns should clearly indicate that a Prevent referral has been made to Cleveland Police Prevent Team and the local authority should make contact with the Police Prevent Team in all cases referred. 

6. What is Channel?

6.1 Channel is a key element of the Prevent Strategy. It is a multi-agency approach to protect people at risk from radicalisation using collaboration between local authorities, statutory partners, the police and local community to:

  • Identify individuals at risk of being drawn into terrorism
  • Assess the nature and extent of that risk and
  • Develop the most appropriate support plan for the individual concerned

6.2 Channel is about safeguarding children, young people and adults from being drawn into terrorism by offering support to those who are identified as being vulnerable at an early stage. Channel provides a multi-agency framework assess the nature and extent of the risk and develops an appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.

6.3 Under provisions in the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015), Local Authorities are required to establish Channel Panels to support vulnerable individuals from being radicalised and drawn into extremist activity. Government guidance on the Channel process can be found here.

7. The Channel Panel Process

7.1 The Channel Panel will be convened on an individual basis by the named Local Authority Prevent Lead at the request of the Cleveland Police Prevent Officer. Key stakeholders will be invited to attend the Channel Panel and to contribute information about their agencies involvement with the individual who has been referred.

7.2 Channel Panels are led by the Local Authority and include local police as well as other partners from a range of other agencies including the Criminal Justice System, education and health; agencies have a duty to cooperate with the Channel Panel in the discharge of its functions, so far as is reasonably practicable. Local Authorities and their partners have to consider how best to ensure that these assessments align with any assessment undertaken within the Children Act, 1989, Working Together (2018) and the Care Act 2014.

7.3 The Channel Panel will assess the extent to which the identified individual is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and arrange for support to be provided to those individuals.

7.4 Annex C of the Channel Duty Guidance 2015 provides the Vulnerability Assessment Framework that Channel Panels will use to guide decision making. It is also a useful tool for agencies to use to guide their assessment and referral decision making processes.

7.5 Practitioners from agencies who know the individual will be invited to the Channel Panel. Where an individual is known to Children’s Social Care or Adult Social Care, the allocated social worker should attend the Panel.

7.6 If there is no further action the feedback will be given to the referring agency and advice given appropriately.

7.7 For each Channel case a review will take place 6 and 12 months after that case has been exited from the Channel process.

7.8 If there are continuing safeguarding needs identified at the Channel Panel, a SAFER referral will be made to Children’s Safeguarding Services or an Adult Safeguarding Concern to Adult Social Care at the earliest opportunity to enable a Strategy Meeting to be held. In all cases a representative from the Police, Prevent Team Branch should be invited to the Strategy Meeting.

8. Local and National Support

8.1 In addition to the Prevent Duty Guidance and Channel Guidance issued by Government there is a nationally accredited e-learning pack available that contains information on how the Channel process works along with some useful case studies which can be accessed here (Channel General Awareness Course).

8.2 For further information on how to access Prevent training contact your organisation’s training lead.

8.3 Contact Cleveland Police Prevent Team or your local authority Prevent Lead for further advice and support in relation to the Channel referral process. Local contacts are as follows:

Cleveland Police Contacts

Prevent Team

Prevent & Contest Team - prevent.contest@cleveland.pnn.police.uk  Tel: 01642 301332

Local Authority Prevent Contacts

 Hartlepool

Rachel.Parker@hartlepool.gov.uk Tel: 01429 523226

 Stockton

Marc.Stephenson@stockton.gov.uk Tel: 01642 527173 

 Middlesbrough

Andrew_Shippey@middlesbrough.gov.uk Tel: 01642 728690

 Redcar & Cleveland

Julie.McDowell@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk   Tel: 01642 837743

9. Useful Guidance Pathway Tools, Contacts and Websites:

10. Flowchart