CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Report signs of friends’ radicalisation, say UCL students

Neighbourhood watch meeting on threat of terrorism to be held in Euston on Saturday

20 April, 2017 — By William McLennan

UCL post-graduate students seek to help people intervene when family or friends are drawn to terrorism

STUDENTS at a Bloomsbury university are encouraging people to report their friends and family to the authorities if they spot “signs or radicalisation and extremism”.

A group of 15 post-graduate students at the University College London have launched a campaign that they believe will help to prevent acts of terrorism by helping people to intervene when they fear their loved ones are on the brink of violence.

Alongside publishing details of how to spot extremist behaviours, they will be hosting community meetings in Camden, with the first to be held at the UCL campus in Gower Street. Giacomo Grechi, a masters student at the university’s security and crime science department, said: “What we want to do with our campaign is to raise awareness of the possible signs of radicalisation and provide resources to concerned individuals so that they can report any issues that they see.”

He added: “The point of our campaign is to tell people that if you take action beforehand you can not only save the lives of others that might be harmed, but you are also saving the life of the people who are willing to commit the act in the first place.” Their project is part of a Facebook-backed drive to use campaigns and social media to tackle “online hate, prejudice and extremism”.

The campaign – entitled React: reporting extremism and countering terrorism – is to host a series of “community-based” events in the borough, targeting local college pupils and school children.

Mr Grechi, who lives in King’s Cross, said: “Young people are important in this picture because most terrorists tend to be between the ages of 18 and 35.” He said there is “no rule book” to spot radicalisation, but added: “One of the things that people can look out for is people might isolate themselves from their previous friend groups or social circles and adopt new ones.”

Mr Grechi said they will also be involved in the “creation of counter narratives” by spreading stories that contradict those used to recruit potential terrorists. He said this would be “stories that are created to de-legitimise radicalising material and propaganda that is being spread by terrorist recruiters and extremists online”.

  • MEMBERS of the public are also being encouraged to help protect Camden against the threat of terrorism with a training event in Euston this weekend. The talk, to be held at the Friends House in Euston Road, will cover “simple steps that can be taken to help protect ourselves and our community,” according to Camden Neighbourhood Watch, who are organising the event. The presentation, starting at 10am on Saturday, will provide information on how to spot “hostile reconnaissance”, how to respond to suspicious packages and “IEDs” – or Improvised Explosive Devices. Advice will also be provided on how to act in the event of what police refer to as a “marauding firearms attack”, of the like twice seen in Paris in 2015. It will be followed by a talk from Trading Standards, answering the question: “How do rogue traders approach and target their victims these days?” To book your free place at the presentation email camdennhw@gmail.com

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