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West Midlands Police

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Advice centre

Radicalisation, extremism and terrorism

Extremism has many forms and promotes different ideologies, but the radicalisation journey is often very similar. It can lead to someone adopting violent views, breaking the law and even committing acts of terrorism.


The earlier stages of the radicalisation process will see changes in behaviour that are most likely to be spotted by those closest to the individual, such as close friends, teachers and – crucially – family members.

Help is available to support and safeguard those who may be vulnerable to negative influences but we need to encourage people to come forward and tell us about their concerns as early as possible.

What are the warning signs ?

There is no single way of identifying someone who is likely to be vulnerable to radicalisation but factors could include peer pressure, spending time on the Internet being influenced by others, bullying, change of appearance or behaviour, crime and anti-social behaviour, family tensions, race hate/crime, lack of self-esteem or identity and personal or political grievances.

The Syrian conflict

The conflict in Syria has resulted in an increase in the number of counter terrorism investigations being carried out nationally and locally.


More and more we are seeing news reports of distraught families who have discovered that their loved ones have secretly left home and put themselves and others at risk by travelling to Syria.

Here in the West Midlands we have seen cases of young people going to great lengths to deceive their families and keep their travel plans secret.

Again, the warning signs will vary but these may provide an indication travel to Syria is being planned:

  • Asking for their passport and other important documents like birth certificates
  • Saving money
  • Buying new clothes
  • Paying off bills
  • Researching travel plans online
  • Researching online, goods & clothes to take (binoculars, maps, boots, first aid kit)

What should you do if you are concerned?

If you think someone is vulnerable to being radicalised, or if you think someone is planning to travel to Syria, you can get help. Call police on 101.


We work with a range of agencies to put the right level of support in place.

Help through the Channel programme

The local authority led Channel programme is designed to support and safeguard individuals vulnerable to all forms of radicalisation. It is an early intervention, voluntary scheme which helps people make positive life choices.

The programme brings together a range of safeguarding agencies, partners and community based mentors who will be able to offer assistance with:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Mentoring
  • Employment

To find out more about Channel, contact us on 101. Ask to speak to your local Prevent officer. Or email us

For any other concerns, you can call 101 or the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

Remember, in an emergency, always dial 999.

More sources of information and support

Click on the link below for more information and links to case studies relating to Syria;

You can find out more about the work of the CTU and the Prevent team here:

You can anonymously report extremism online here: