Somerset County Council

The Channel Panel and the Prevent referral process


The Prevent Duty is about safeguarding. It is a way to support vulnerable people who may be at risk of being radicalised. 

How the referral system and the Channel Panel work
You can make a report to the Prevent Referral Team on 01179 455 536 or by emailing

This is then passed onto the Channel Police Practitioner. This role reviews if the individual is vulnerable. 

A person can be considered vulnerable or susceptible to radicalisation if they:

  • feel a sense of social isolation or expressions of an ‘us and them’
  • exhibit social isolation – losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, distancing themselves from friends and social groups
  • have low self-esteem 
  • are experiencing a personal crisis
  • are individuals with feelings of unmet aspirations or a sense of injustice
  • are being overly secretive about their online viewing
  • are becoming more argumentative or domineering in their viewpoints, being quick to condemn those who disagree and ignoring views that contradict their own 
  • are downloading or promoting extremist content
  • may be searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging
  • have a pre-existing conviction that their religion or culture is under threat
  • have abnormal routines, travel patterns or aspirations
  • have Special Educational Needs - social interaction, difficulties emphasising with others and being able to understanding the consequences of their actions, and being aware of the motivations of others 
  • have a need for adventure or excitement
  • have a history of criminal behaviour

After this an assessment is made as to whether it should go to the Channel Panel. 

Examples of assessment criteria points

  • Is the vulnerable individual being drawn into extremism or terrorism?
  • Should the individual be referred to a Channel support mechanism?
  • Should the individual exit the process and be helped by other safeguarding processes?

In Somerset the Channel Panel is chaired by Somerset County Council, and a Channel Police Practitioner is also present. Depending on the case, senior statutory partners are invited, such as housing, mental health, community representatives, social care and education sector colleagues, to gather and discuss the individual’s safeguarding concerns, vulnerability and potential intervention. 

In assessing the risk, consideration should be given to

  • the risk the individual faces of being drawn into extremism or terrorism.
  • the risk the individual poses to society

If I refer an individual to Prevent, will this be traceable through checks in the future?
The Prevent referral system does not criminalise people for holding extreme views. It does not result in the person referred having a criminal record through the Disclose and Barring Service (DBS) formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). 

A crime will only be recorded if the individual has committed an actual crime that falls within the criminal justice system or under the Counter Terrorism Act. As an early intervention process, it operates as a safeguarding process to protect from radicalisation with appropriate support.

Prevent and freedom of speech
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act acknowledges that alongside the Prevent Duty 'a specified authority must have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech.'

It is important, especially in educational establishments, that enough time is provided for discussion, debate and respectful exchange of views around Prevent and extremism.

Everyone is entitled to their own political view or opinion, but no one should enforce one view over that of others. 

Prevent and equality and diversity
The Prevent Duty states that action taken under the duty 'must not involve any covert activity against people or communities' and therefore individuals are to have due regard, as identified under the Public Sector Equality Duty, to the need to 

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation
  • foster good relations between people who share differing views

The promotion of equality and diversity and British values is at the heart of the Prevent Duty. It should be demonstrated through all its practices in tackling any instances of discrimination and being alert to potential risks from radicalisation and extremism.

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