What is PREVENT?

The Prevent Strategy is a cross-Government policy that forms one of the four strands of CONTEST: the United Kingdom’s Strategy for Counter Terrorism. It includes the
anti-radicalisation of vulnerable adults and children.

CONTEST as a counter-terrorism strategy is organised around four work streams, each comprising a number of key objectives:

  • PURSUE: To stop terrorist attacks;
  • PREVENT: To stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism;
  • PROTECT: To strengthen our protection against a terrorist attack; and
  • PREPARE: To mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.

Prevent is designed to stop people from supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists themselves. The importance of identifying radicalisation as early as possible continues to be highlighted: when successful, radicalised individuals can be prevented from perpetrating criminal acts which significantly affect their own lives as well as those of their victims and their families and local communities.

Prevent now addresses radicalisation to all forms of terrorism, including the extreme right-wing, for example, and the non-violent, which can popularise views that terrorists exploit. Action to address forms of extremism such as these should be prioritised locally according to the risks faced. To assist in this, though the current Prevent strategy has widened its scope, its focus has been reduced to these key objectives:

  • IDEOLOGIES: To respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it;
  • INDIVIDUALS: To prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support; and
  • INSTITUTIONS: To work with a wide range of sectors (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, the internet and health) where there are risks of radicalisation.

What do we mean by the term terrorism?

Although there is no generally agreed definition of terrorism internationally, in the United Kingdom the Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism as:

The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause; and it involves or causes:

serious violence against a person; serious damage to a property; a threat to a person’s life; a serious risk to the health and safety of the public; or serious interference with or disruption to an electronic system.

What do we mean by the term radicalisation?

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.

There is no obvious profile of anyone likely to become involved in extremism or a single indicator of when a person might move to 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.

What do we mean by the term prevention?

Prevention means reducing or eliminating the risk of individuals or groups becoming involved in terrorism. Prevent involves the identification and referral of those susceptible to violent extremism into appropriate interventions. These interventions are aimed to stop the vulnerable being radicalised.

Extremists will always target the vulnerable in a bid to spread their firmly held, but flawed, ideologies, but we must tackle them at source and prevent people being brainwashed into terrorism.


Channel is a multi-agency process for identifying, referring and supporting a person at risk of radicalisation, focusing on early intervention and engagement.
Through Channel we aim to:

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

Participation in Channel is voluntary and can lead to a wide package of support, such as mentoring, life skills, therapies, housing support, and drug and alcohol support. This is delivered by agencies working together from across the children and adult’s workforce, such as local authority, health, education, police, and voluntary and community organisations. Where the support needs can’t be met through existing mainstream provision locally, the panel can access specialist support, including Channel intervention providers, approved by the Home Office.

Who can receive support through Channel?

Support through Channel may be appropriate for anyone who is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. This includes children or adults of any faith or ethnicity or background. The aim is to reach people before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those who want to them embrace terrorism and they are drawn into committing terrorist-related activity.

Channel is not suitable for anyone who you believe has, or is about to, commit a criminal offence. In this instance you should contact the police for an emergency response.

What do I do if I have a concern?

For details of who to contact and to find out more about what happens when you contact Channel practitioners, see the guidance on Making a Channel Referral in West Sussex

You can make a referral using the Prevent Channel Referral Form