LONDON: The Met is urging parents across London to be aware of the signs that might indicate that their child is vulnerable to being radicalised.
Friends and family are being urged to act if they see potential early warning signs of radicalisation and get in touch with specialist officers, so they can get the help and support they need.
This call comes against the backdrop of increasing numbers of young people being investigated for terrorism offences.
Around a third of all Prevent referrals received each year come from teachers and people in the education sector and so as the summer holidays get under way, it is important that parents and care-givers remain vigilant.
If you are worried about someone, then visit the ACT Early website or call the Act Early Support Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, to speak with specially trained officers.
Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan, London Prevent co-ordinator, said: “Young people will have a lot more free time in the coming weeks and for a lot of young people, this will involve spending more time online.
“The causes of radicalisation are complex and varied, and it can occur suddenly and quickly. Extremist material found online is often a common factor.
“This is part of the reason why we are renewing calls for parents and carers to be aware of the signs of radicalisation, and act early if they see any concerning behaviour.
“It could be that a young person is becoming less tolerant of other people’s views, or they are secretive about who they are speaking to. If you have concerns about someone, contact the ACT Early Support Line.
“This is about seeking help early to divert vulnerable people away from a path which often leads to entrenched extremist views that can result in terrorism or other crime.”
Prevent is the government-led programme which aims to stop vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism, with police working with other safeguarding agencies to provide the necessary support.
Sue* (not her real name), whose teenage foster son was referred to Prevent, said of the support she received: “I was kept in the loop and I really appreciated the feedback which remained confidential between us.
“Overall, I think the Prevent process was positive for my foster child as it has a therapeutic premise and helped them to organise their thoughts around what they actually wanted from the internet and why they were seeking support from the internet.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We know that uncertainty and hardship can create fertile breeding grounds for hatred and division as extremists take the opportunity to prey on the vulnerable.
“With the growing cost of living crisis and especially during the summer when schools are closed and young people spend more time online, I worry that extremists are using this period to promote hate and conspiracy theories on social media.
“We’ve seen a record number of children being arrested recently for Terrorism Act offences and that’s why it’s so important for friends and family to act on any signs that their children may be being radicalised.
“I am committed to working closely with our police and grassroot community groups through my shared endeavour fund to ensure we do everything to counter extremism for our most vulnerable. That includes making sure young Londoners are able to engage in positive activities and programmes which strengthen our communities against extremism and the vile ideologies which seek to divide us.”
The ACT Early Support Line is open every day between 09:00hrs and 17:00hrs. Calls outside of these hours will be transferred to specialist Counter Terrorism officers. In an emergency, always dial 999.
Extreme online content can be reported anonymously via https://www.gov.uk/report-terrorism
It can also be reported via the iREPORTit app, created by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in partnership with the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU).