Children’s services are “struggling” to determine what action to take in cases where radicalisation is suspected as they can be so different from those which normally require formal interventions, the National Children and Adult Services Conference heard today.
Sally Rowe, director of children and learning at Luton council, told delegates in Bournemouth that cases where radicalisation could be a factor were “not typical” and families at risk in these circumstances were “not necessarily on the radar of children’s services”.
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She said authorities were dealing with an increasing number of adolescents at risk of radicalisation caused by the behaviour of parents and carers.
Child protection planning?
Luton was looking at how it could use early help services to target young people who might be at risk, she said.
“But what I am not clear about is when is it child protection planning,” she said. “What we normally put in place for a child at risk of neglect is not what we would use in this type of case.”
Gail Hopper, director of children’s services at Rochdale council, said at this stage the judiciary was more focused on preventing children and families leaving the country than engaging with wider issues affecting children in radicalisation cases.
The implementation of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on 1 July placed a duty on local authorities and other public bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, as part of the Prevent duty.
More than 300 children and young people were referred to the government’s deradicalisation programme over the summer, according to figures published under freedom of information by the National Police Chiefs’ Council earlier this month. This was just under 40% of the total number of referrals.
But concerns have been raised about the involvement of social workers in attempting to determine which children are likely to become terrorists.