The UK Government should institute a Terrorism and Extremism Disclosure Scheme to warn parents if their children are coming into contact with extremists, according to a think tank report.
The paper, published by the Henry Jackson Society, proposes that the police disclose concerns about the extremist pasts of faith leaders, relatives, and neighbours to the parents of children in a scheme modelled on those already in place to handle sex offenders and domestic abusers.
The TEDS scheme would — according to the author — be possible to implement under existing legislation and common law powers. Matthew Dryden, the author and a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, proposes establishing the mechanism within the existing counter-terrorism framework. Prevent personnel would process applications, while disclosure decision making would be the responsibility of existing Channel panels.
TEDS would establish two new rights for the parents of UK children:
- The first, Right to Ask, allows the public to request information from police.
- The second, Right to Know, gives police the opportunity to proactively disclose information to parents and guardians.
TEDS would seek to include family members in every step of the process, by disclosing relevant information regarding an individual’s terrorism and racially or religiously motivated criminal history to parents. Dryden argues that this would encourage loved ones to reject radicalising and extremist influences, and protect their children within the family unit.
The scheme would create an established protocol where the police are expected to disclose when a subject has convictions (including cautions, reprimands and final warnings) for terrorism-related and racially or religiously motivated offences.
The Henry Jackson Society proposes a year-long TEDS pilot scheme in several UK regions, with independent evaluation and analysis to help assess the success and feasibility of the scheme.
In the words of the author:
“We know that extremists are actively targeting children in our communities, attempting to radicalise them into adopting extreme beliefs and ultimately becoming involved in terrorism. Many parents will be completely unaware that those with access to their children — including those in positions of trust — may be avowed extremists or even convicted terrorists.
The Government should urgently consider establishing schemes by which parents are able to understand just who they are dealing with, just as they are with convicted sexual offenders and domestic abusers. My proposal for a TEDS would achieve exactly that.”
Matt Dryden, Research Fellow