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6.25 Prevent Guidance


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  1. Introduction
  2. Prevent
  3. Safeguarding
  4. Channel
  5. Process for Young People in Hertfordshire
  6. Consent Prior to Information Sharing
  7. Vulnerability Assessment Framework

1. Introduction

  1. This guidance refers to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (the CT&S Act), which sets out the duty on local authorities and partners of local panels to provide support for people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. In England and Wales this duty is the Channel programme;
  2. This guidance is specifically aimed at members and partners involved in the local Channel Panel and process. The Channel Police Practitioner and the Hertfordshire Local Authority Chair are key participants in the Channel process; developing a strong working relationship between partners is vital to the success of Channel.

2. Prevent

Hertfordshire’s Prevent strategy aims to reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The most significant threats are currently those associated with organisations such as IS in Syria and Iraq, and Al Qaida associated groups. However, extremism associated with the far right also poses a continued threat.

Channel is part of the local Prevent strategy and is a multi-agency approach to identify and provide support to individuals who are at risk of being drawn into terrorism.

3. Safeguarding

Local authorities have a statutory duty to safeguard children, young people and adults. The Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions (including any that are contracted out) to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Working Together to Safeguard Children is relevant; this sets out the legislative requirements and expectations in individual services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Local authorities are required to have Local Safeguarding Children Boards (HSCB) and Safeguarding Adults Boards (HSAB) in their area, which provide strategic leadership.

It is essential that Channel panel members, partners to the local panel and other professionals ensure that children, young people and adults are protected from harm. Whilst the Channel provisions are aimed at preventing terrorism, the way in which Channel is delivered may often overlap with the implementation of the wider safeguarding duty, especially where vulnerabilities have been identified that require intervention from social care, or where the individual is already known to Children’s Services.

It is imperative that Channel referrals are considered by the local authority and panel members and partners alongside their work to safeguard vulnerable individuals. Key links should be established with social care and other panel partners to ensure that an individual receives the most appropriate support available.

4. Channel

Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to young people and adults who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The programme uses a multi-agency approach to protect vulnerable people by:

  1. Identifying individuals at risk;
  2. Assessing the nature and extent of that risk; and
  3. Developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.

Channel may be appropriate for anyone who is vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism. Channel is about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist related activity.

Success of the programme is very much dependent on the co-operation and co-ordinated activity of partners. It works best when the individuals and their families fully engage with the programme and are supported in a consistent manner.

5. Process for Young People in Hertfordshire

Concerns about changes in the behaviour or attitudes of young people are most likely to be picked up by family members or schools/colleges in the first instance.

There is no single way of identifying who is likely to be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Factors that may have a bearing on someone becoming vulnerable may include: peer pressure, influence from other people or via the internet, bullying, crime against them or their involvement in crime, anti-social behaviour, family tensions, race/hate crime, lack of self-esteem or identity and personal or political grievances.

In the first instance, it is likely that the most appropriate assessment should be via a CAF, with support from the Early Help eCAF co-ordinators, to explore the issues of concern with the young person and their family.

See the local Protocol: Prevent Strategy (June 2011, GOV.UK).

See also:

Where risks of vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism are suspected or confirmed, practitioners should make a referral to the PREVENT team at, using the referral form that is attached. See Channel Referral Form.

The Channel Police Practitioner (CPP) will review referrals received and consider whether a direct referral to the Channel Panel is appropriate, or whether a referral to Targeted Youth Support, in the case of a young person living with their family in the community or a referral to Children’s Social Work Services where a young person is Looked After should be considered. A multi-agency professionals meeting should be convened and a referral to the Targeted Youth Support risk management panel should also be considered.

Where an agency or the CPP receives a referral indicating that a parent or family may be intending to leave the UK with their children to travel to a war zone such as Syria, an immediate child protection referral should be made to the Customer Services Centre so that a legal planning meeting can be arranged and an application to the High Court be made to prevent the children being removed from the jurisdiction can be made where available evidence meets the threshold for such an application.

6. Consent Prior to Information Sharing

The default for panel partners when determining what information can be shared should be to consider seeking the consent of the individual (or their parent/guardian). In some circumstances, consent from the individual will not be sought at this early stage. This will be dependent on the circumstances of the case but may relate to issues such as the health of the individual, law enforcement or protection of the public. Where consent cannot be sought, information sharing may take place if any of the exemptions to the various legislative provisions restricting information sharing applies, and it will be made explicit in the record of the case by a panel partner which exemption or gateway is being relied upon.

7. Vulnerability Assessment Framework

Channel assesses vulnerability using a consistently applied vulnerability assessment framework built around three criteria. The three criteria are:

  1. Engagement with a group, cause or ideology;
  2. Intent to cause harm; and
  3. Capability to cause harm.

The criteria are considered separately as experience has shown that it is possible to be engaged without intending to cause harm and that it is possible to intend to cause harm without being particularly engaged. Experience has also shown that it is possible to desist (stop intending to cause harm) without fully disengaging (remaining sympathetic to the cause); though losing sympathy with the cause (disengaging) will invariably result in desistance (loss of intent).

The three criteria are assessed by considering 22 factors that can contribute to vulnerability (13 associated with engagement, six that relate to intent and three for capability). These factors taken together form a holistic view of the vulnerability of an individual that will inform decisions on whether an individual needs support and what kind of support package may be appropriate. These factors can also be added to and are not considered an exhaustive list. By undertaking regular vulnerability assessments the progress that is being made in supporting an individual can be tracked through changes in the assessment. Outward expression of faith, in the absence of any other indicator of vulnerability, is not a reason to make a referral to Channel.

Completing a full assessment for all 22 factors requires thorough knowledge of the individual that may not be available at the point of the initial referral, and is the responsibility of the Channel Police Practitioner (CPP) to complete and review.

If the initial information received through the referral shows a vulnerability that is not terrorist related then the case is not suitable for Channel; the CPP will refer the individual to other more appropriate support services. This will ensure that only those cases where there is a genuine vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism are processed through Channel.

Click here to view the Channel Referral Form.