In the sixth and final blog in a series about safeguarding, ETF Associate Selina Stewart examines the Channel referral data, asking what it tells us and how it may relate to our learners.
The previous pieces in the series can be accessed on the blogs section of the website.
The Channel data for 2019–20 was published in November. Most of us won’t get past the headline figures:
But what does the data suggest about the people we, in FE and training, are most likely to come across who need Channel support?
It is likely that learners who you will be so concerned about that you will refer them for Channel support will be male.
This is the case for all categories of extremism but particularly so for right-wing extremism where 93% of referrals are male, and also of referrals who are confused, unstable or unclear about their ideology at 89% male. In Islamicist extremist referrals there are slightly more women with 19% of referrals being women as opposed to 81% male.
However, this does not mean you won’t come across women who are extremists, so none of us can afford to dismiss any extremist radicalisation concerns about individual women or girls.
Can I forget about learners over 20? Are all those who are vulnerable going to be under 18?
People from all age groups are being referred to Channel Panel, being discussed at Channel Panel and being adopted as Channel cases, so whether you are working with adults or young people you should still be aware that your learners could be drawn into extremism.
However, it is not surprising given the age profile of most people who get into trouble with the police, that it is 15-to-20 year olds who are most likely to be referred to the police, discussed at Channel Panel or adopted into Channel.
So what kind of extremism should we be worried about?
Surprisingly, 51% of people being referred for Channel support have a confused, unstable or unclear ideology. These people are described as being radicalised:
“where the ideology presented involves a combination of elements from multiple ideologies (mixed), shifts between different ideologies (unstable), or where the individual does not present a coherent ideology yet may still pose a terrorism risk(unclear)”.
Meanwhile 24% of referrals are for Islamicist extremism and 22% for right-wing extremism.
However, this does not tell us the whole story.
Of cases that are actually discussed at Channel panel, after the filtering process:
By the time an individual is accepted for support the numbers are considerably smaller: 6,287 people were referred in total and only 697 were adopted as Channel cases. Some cases will not progress because they are not thought to need support, others reject the support offered. Sadly, we are not told the number of people who reject the support. We do know that:
How have referrals changed since 2015?
We can see from the Home office chart below that there has been a major change since Channel data was first published.
As this chart shows, referrals for Islamicist extremism declined rapidly from 2015 to 2018 and then stabilised over the 12 months to March 2020. On the other hand, mixed, unstable and unclear ideology has increased rapidly since the definition was clarified in 2018, it is probable that the decline in the ‘Other Forms of Extremism’ category is partly caused by a transfer of some of these over to the ‘Mixed, Unstable or Unclear Ideology’ group.
What does this tell us as practitioners in the FE and Training sector?
As ever the data cannot give us all the answers, but what it can do is point out where we should ask more questions.