Safeguarding Apprentices from the Influences of Extremism
As an employer you have a vital responsibility to safeguard the people in your care. Often you will notice behavioural changes in apprentices before their peers or even their parents. You also play a hugely important role in helping build the resilience of apprentices against all forms of harm, and preparing them for life beyond College.
Here you will find information to help you understand your ‘Prevent’ responsibilities and know where to turn for support.
What is extremism?
- Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist. Source: Counter Extremism Strategy – October 2015
What is terrorism?
- Terrorism is defined as action designed to influence the government, intimidate the public, and done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, that endangers or causes serious violence or harm to people, property, or seriously disrupts or interferes with an electronic system. Source: Terrorism Act – 2000
According to the Home Office the current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is SEVERE. This means a terrorist attack is HIGHLY LIKELY. Link: https://www.mi5.gov.uk/threat-levels
“The greatest current challenge comes from the global rise of Islamist extremism. We see this in the violence of Al Qa’ida (AQ) and Daesh (also referred to as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], Islamic State or IS). The appalling attack in Tunisia in June 2015 took the lives of 38 people, 30 of them British. More than 750 UK linked individuals have travelled to take part in the Syrian conflict. Worryingly we have seen examples of women, children and families buying into Daesh’s extremist narrative and travelling to live under their brutal regime. Islamist extremists have also inspired the overwhelming majority of over 40 terrorist plots which have been disrupted since the London bombings of 2005.”
(Source: Home Office 2016)
“Islamist extremism is not the only threat, as seen by the vicious actions of a number of extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups. In 2013 Mohammed Saleem, an 82-year-old British Muslim from Birmingham, was murdered by Pavlo Lapshyn, an extreme right-wing fanatic, who went on to bomb mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton. In January 2015, Zack Davies attempted to murder Dr Sarandev Bhambra in a racially-motivated attack in a supermarket in North Wales, and was sentenced to life in prison. He had claimed the attack was “revenge for Lee Rigby”, and extreme right-wing publications were found at his home. The government is determined that such violence, and the Islamophobia that underpins it, will be defeated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
(Source: Home Office 2016)
Who or what is Daesh?
- Daesh was preceded by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an Al Qa’ida affiliated group established in 2006. Following the group’s expansion into Syria and its consistent disobeying of orders from Al Qa’ida’s leadership, Al Qa’ida issued a statement disowning Daesh in early 2014. In June 2014, Daesh spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declared it had established an Islamic caliphate with its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim.
- Daesh inherited much of its ideology from Al Qa’ida, focussing on the formation and consolidation of an Islamic caliphate. It is noted for its brutality and indiscriminate killing of other Muslims. Daesh rejects the legitimacy of all other jihadi organisations and considers itself exclusive in its representation as the only legitimate religious authority.
- Daesh’s activity in the region and its professional media output have led to an unprecedented number of attacks carried out in its name, exporting the threat to countries with little or no history of terrorism, and inspiring groups to break former allegiances.
What are the origins of extreme right-wing activity in the UK?
- Oswald Mosley’s interwar British Union of Fascists (BUF) was the first significant extreme right movement in the UK. Influenced by Mussolini, the group held that Britain was in terminal decline and could only be saved by the regenerative force of fascism. After 1934, antisemitism became a core element of the BUF’s ideology, with the group regularly marching in Jewish areas of London, which notably prompted the battle of Cable Street in 1936.
- After World War II, extreme-right movements such as Colin Jordan’s British Movement and the National Front focused on opposition to non-White immigration. The movements were largely street based and had little electoral success. During the 1970s and 1980s marches by the National Front frequently resulted in serious public disorder.
- Today in the UK, there are numerous active extreme right-wing groups, sharing an ideology centring on an intense hostility to minorities and a belief that violence between ethnic and religious groups is inevitable. Alongside antisemitism and racism, hostility to Islam has now become a common element of extreme right ideology
As young people grow and become more independent, it is not unusual for them to take risks, explore new things and push boundaries. These years are often a time when young people will be searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging, as well as looking for adventure and excitement. This can mean that they are particularly vulnerable to extremist groups, who may claim to offer answers, as well as identity and a strong social network. Given they know young people are vulnerable, extremist groups often target them using the internet and social media to spread their ideology. There have been a number of tragic examples nationally and locally where young people have been misled by extremist groups, with some travelling to Syria and others becoming involved in hate crimes against minority groups.
Although the radicalisation process is unique for each individual, in general terms, four key elements are usually present.
(1) A vulnerable person will be introduced to an (2) extremist ideology by a (3) radicalising influencer who, in the (4) absence of protective factors, such as a supportive network of family and friends, or a fulfilling job, draws the individual ever closer to extremism.
Path to radicalisation
Vulnerabitilities or local factors - these are the personal factors that make an individual more susceptible to radical messages. These factors can be extremely diverse and could include issues such as behavioural or family problems, lack of belonging, and involvement in criminality
Radicaliser - an individual who encourages others to develop or adopt beliefs. The internet is increasingly being used as a mechanism by which to radicalise and purvey extremist messages without the need for individuals to meet in person.
Ideology - underpinning the radicalisation process is that an individual has been exposed to an idea or ideology or a set of beliefs that appears credible and appeals to the person in question. Ideology in itself is not a negative thing, but it can be exploited/misconstrued and used to a negative effect.
Absence of protective factors and/or obstacles - this means a positive influence in a young person’s life that is able to intervene in the radicalisation process is absent. This could include factors such as a parent or teacher who spots a child is displaying warning signs or behavioural problems and intervenes to help. Or it could be a more formal Prevent process such as Channel which aims to address the individual needs of the particular person for example through a mentoring scheme.
It is possible for any person to be exposed to extremist influences. People from very different backgrounds have been radicalised, including people from stable homes, who were doing well educationally.
However, it’s important to keep things in perspective and remember that for most young people, the risk that they will become involved with extremist groups is very low.
To be in the best position to protect your apprentices, you should be aware of the factors that may make them more vulnerable to radicalisation. You should bear in mind that these factors are a guide only, and you should use your professional judgment to decide whether an apprentice might be vulnerable.
Struggling with their sense of identity
- Feelings of distance from their cultural or religious heritage and questions about their place in the society around them
- A search for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging
- Isolation and alienation from UK values and culture
- Family tensions
- Experience of a traumatic event
- Low self-esteem or unmet aspirations, including perceptions of injustice and a feeling of failure
- Having a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination
- Lack of strong role models
- Contact with individuals who hold extremist views
- Special educational needs – difficulties with social interaction, empathy with others and understanding the consequences of their actions
- Local community tensions
- Events affecting country or region of origin
- Having family or friends who have travelled abroad to join extremist groups, for example ISIL
- Exposure to a learning environment which does not present balanced arguments and diverse points of view
- Experiences of young offender institutions or imprisonment
- Poor reintegration into society following a period of imprisonment
- Previous involvement with criminal groups
There is no single route to radicalisation. It can occur quickly, or over a longer period of time. Sometimes there are clear warning signs, and in other cases the changes in personality or behaviour are less obvious.
The list of behaviours below is intended as a guide. As an employer, you will be well placed to recognise when changes to an apprentice’s behaviour feel out of character. You should have confidence in your professional judgment and seek advice if something feels wrong. Possible warning signs of radicalisation include:
Attitudes and opinions
- Argumentativeness or aggression, and an unwillingness to listen to/consider points of view which contradict their own
- Refusal to engage with, or being abusive to, peers who are different to themselves. This could include race, religion, gender or sexuality
- Susceptibility to conspiracy theories and a feeling of persecution
- Changes in behaviour and peer group
- Distancing themselves from friends and peer groups, both online and offline
- Recent conversion to a new religion
- A significant change of appearance/clothing and/or behaviour
- Rejection of activities they used to enjoy
- Excessive time spent online or on mobile phones, and secretiveness or reluctance to discuss what they are doing
- Changes in online identity, including social media profile image or name. Some will even have two parallel online profiles, one their ‘normal’ or old self, the other an extremist identity, often in another name
- Support for extremist ideologies and groups
- Expressions of sympathy with the ideology of extremist groups or justification of their action
- Expressions of sympathy or understanding for other young people who have joined or attempted to join these groups
- Accessing extremist material online, including violent extremist websites, especially those with a social networking element (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
- Possessing or accessing other forms of extremist literature
- Being in contact with extremist recruiters
- Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations
Since July 2015, all FE Institutions, including Apprenticeship providers, have a legal responsibility to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. This is known as the ‘Prevent Duty’.
Further information on your obligations under the ‘Prevent Duty’ can be found here.
If you have concerns that one of your apprentices is being or has been radicalised, contact the Apprentice’s Assessor who will raise the concern with a College Safeguarding Officer.
If an assessor is unavailable, contact the Central College Nottingham Safeguarding Team directly on:
or call 0115 914 6414 and ask to speak to a Safeguarding Designate.
Imminent threat of harm to others contact:
If you think someone is in immediate danger; may be planning to travel to join an extremist group, either alone or as part of a family unit or friendship group; or if you see or hear something that may be terrorist related, trust your instincts and call 999 or the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
For non-urgent concerns
The Department for Education has a counter-extremism helpline which you can call for advice on 020 7340 7264.
If you are concerned about someone displaying suspicious behaviour, such as taking photos of CCTV systems, contact the Police non urgent hotline on 101.
- Report terrorism online via: www.gov.uk/report-terrorism
- www.educateagainsthate.com provides further information with regard to understanding radicalisation and extremism.
- www.preventforfeandtraining.org.uk provides information and online training with regard to the Prevent Duty which is specific to Further Education and Training Providers.
- www.internetmatters.org has lots of information, advice and resources which can be used to help people stay safe online.
- www.ceop.gov.uk - CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account, protecting children from harm online and offline.
- www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/0 Information and support for safe use of the internet.