Is someone close becoming a stranger? Research shows that family and friends are best placed to spot the signs that someone might be vulnerable to radicalisation.

Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies. But more important than any one sign is the feeling that something is not right. These can be big or small changes that take place very quickly or over a longer period.

It can be hard to know what to do if you’re worried someone close is expressing extreme views or hatred, which could lead to them harming themselves or others. Here we’ve listed some useful advice on how to spot the signs and what to do next.

What to look for

There is no single route to radicalisation. However, there are certain behaviours you can watch out for that we often see when someone is being led down the path of extremism.

  • Being influenced or controlled by a group
  • An obsessive or angry desire for change or ‘something to be done’
  • 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.

Read about these behaviours in more detail. 

Should you start a conversation? Tips for talking

If you’re worried about someone close becoming radicalised or holding extreme views, it can be difficult to know how to start a conversation. The person may not agree that something is wrong and it may be hard to talk about your concerns with them.

Here are some ways to help you make that move.

  • The best way is to start off asking a question and then listening to them answer
  • Try and bring them on board first and challenge later
  • Create a space and the opportunity for them to talk
  • Don’t try and do a counter narrative, even though you might find their views offensive, let them express themselves
  • To explore their views in more detail, take an aspect of what they are saying and counter it with a different viewpoint (could be historical or a theological context)
  • Try and engage in healthy debate
  • Seek help and support.

What are the other ‘dos and don’ts?

Staying safe online

Young people can see all kinds of things online, via social media and through online games. The popularity of online gaming has given extremists more opportunities to make their narratives sound more mainstream. Radicalisers use techniques to groom people and draw them in and might even seem or look harmless to start with. Be vigilant and find out who they might be coming into contact with online. There’s more information on staying safe online at

If you see online graphic or violent extremist material or content that supports, directs or glorifies terrorism please report it using our anonymous online reporting form.

Prevent in East Sussex

‘Prevent’ happens before any criminal activity takes place. It is about recognising, supporting and protecting people who might be susceptible to radicalisation.

Police forces across the country have specially trained Prevent officers who work with professionals in health, education, local authorities and charities, as well as faith and community groups to help vulnerable people move away from extremism. They are there to listen and offer help and advice. Receiving support is voluntary.

The Safe in East Sussex website has further information about Prevent for East Sussex.

It can feel scary to think someone close could be heading down a path towards extremism. However, you are best placed to spot worrying behaviour at an early stage and can help the person you care about get the support they may need to move away from extremism.

When to ACT

If something doesn’t feel right, call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764 in confidence. Specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns. The sooner you reach out, the quicker your vulnerable friend or loved one can get the support they need before the situation escalates into something more serious.

To find out more about how to help someone close to you visit

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