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What to do if you are concerned about someone you know

University is an open and exciting place to explore political, religious and philosophical beliefs, and this is encouraged. In most circumstances this is a natural element of the University experience. However, individual circumstances for a small number of students may mean that they are more receptive to extreme ideologies.

There is no blueprint profile of a person who is at risk from being drawn into terrorism. The indicators that this may be the case are similar to other welfare and wellbeing concerns. We are not asking students or staff to make decisions based on these indicators to identify that a person may be at risk of being radicalised. We are providing information to help you to assess whether a concern should be referred in to the welfare and wellbeing processes, and how to make that referral. Key members of staff within this process have been trained in the further assessment of welfare risks presented, and the best form of support to offer. There is additional useful advice on the Counter Terorrism Police website Action Against Terrorism (ACT), which points out that reporting won't ruin lives, but it might save them.

Further information around the signs of radicalisation can be found on ACT Early, which provides guidance and support for loved ones who may be concerned about a friend or family member who may be vulnerable to extremism. Visit ACT Early for further support. If you do have a concern about someone, please follow the University Prevent Support Referrals process, detailed in the "what should I do" section below.

The Office for Students (OfS) as the monitoring body for the Prevent duty requires a statutory annual statistical report on the number of welfare concerns consdiered by specialised staff, and the number that have been escalated to the University Prevent lead. No personal data is included within this report. If you have any concerns about this process, please contact Prevent@exeter.ac.uk

It may start with a feeling that something just isn't right, and you are uneasy or concerned about someone you know. Spotting one or more of the signs below does not necessarily mean that someone is being radicalised, but may mean that they are more at risk of being exploited. If you are concerned and have observed any of these, reaching out for help is a step towards getting support for the person you are concerned about.

  • Being influenced or controlled by a group
  • An obsessive or angry desire for change, or "something must happen"
  • Spending an increasing amount of time online and sharing extreme views on social media
  • Personal crisis
  • Need for identity, meaning and belonging
  • Mental health issues
  • Looking to blame others
  • Desire for status, need to dominate

It is also worth noting that “extreme” ideas can cover a very broad spectrum of beliefs, for example having sympathy for the Far Right, the Far Left, Daesh, Pro-Life campaigns, Anti-vivisection, anti LGBT. Holding views that are “extreme” may not be illegal. It is when these views become or are at risk of becoming supportive of violence or illegality that the line has been crossed. 

A review will be conducted internally, by members of staff who have been trained to assess such risks. This review will form a view on whether the individual is at risk of being drawn into illegal extremism, or whether other wellbeing factors are at play. If the risk is not deemed to be related to extremism or terrorism, alternative University support processes will be offered. Concerns are screened at this stage to avoid inappropriate onward referral.

If the review finds that there is a risk with regard to terrorism or extremism, external advice from expert partners will be sought based on anonymised data. If the partner agrees with the University finding, the individual will be spoken to, and consent normally sought to refer externally for additional support. If there is an immediate threat or risk to self or others, consent will not be sought. Again, if there is found to be no risk with regard to terrorism or extremism, the individual will be referred via alternative University support processes.

The University Prevent Support Referrals process details the steps that will be taken internally by the University should a concern be identified.

External support is arranged via a Channel multi-agency panel, consisting of local authority partners, social workers, religious organisations, counsellors and youth groups. The make-up of the panel will vary according to the needs of the individual. A plan will be tailored to support them.

Apart from the above, personal data will not be shared externally unless formally requested under criminal investigation, providing that the data is relevant to that investigation. 

If you are worried about the wellbeing, welfare or safety of a fellow student, the first option would be to speak to them, and recommend that they either contact welfare@exeter.ac.uk, speak to their personal tutor, or an alternative member of staff that they trust. The Wellbeing website has an advice page with useful information for situations such as these. 

If you really don’t feel able to speak to them, then all of these options are open to you on the individual’s behalf, in confidence. Please do speak to a member of University staff, as you would with any other wellbeing concern, as this will enable us to offer support. It is really important that concerns are raised early, giving the best opportunity to turn things around before it's too late.

The individual may be referred on for consideration by the University's single points of contact for Prevent, who are:

For concerns relating to students:

  • Exeter campuses: Elaine Cordy, Head of Education Support
  • Cornwall campuses: David Dickinson, FX Plus Director of Student and Library Services

For concerns relating to staff:

It is important to note that this process applies only where no crime has yet been committed. If you believe that a criminal act has already occurred, you should immediately report this to the police, and inform a member of staff at the University.

Friends and family are often the first to spot worrying changes taking place. Although we are unable to become directly involved with individuals who are not members of the University community, there are resources that can help you. Please remember that the Prevent Duty has been implemented to provide support to individuals who are vulnerable to exploitation by negative influencers, and to guide them away from such influences.

ACT Early is a platform created by the National Counter Terrorism Police. It is in place specifically to provide guidance and to access support for vulnerable individuals, before they have got in too deep. The webpage includes the following topics:

  • Spotting the signs
  • How you can help (including tips on starting conversations)
  • Real stories from families who have followed this process
  • How to contact the national Police Prevent Advice Line
  • How to raise a concern and obtain support for someone you know