Terrorism and Extremism

Terrorism and extremism are sometimes used interchangeably. Both pose a threat to students but they have very distinct definitions.

Terrorism is an action or threat designed to influence the government or intimidate the public. Its purpose is to advance a political, religious or ideological cause. The current UK definition of terrorism is given in the Terrorism Act 2006.

In the UK we define terrorism as a violent action that:

  • Endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action
  • Involves serious violence against a person
  • Causes serious damage to property
  • Creates a serious risk to the public’s health and safety
  • Interferes with or seriously disrupts an electronic system

But how does terrorism differ from extremism? The Counter Extremism Strategy 2015 says: “Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and respect and tolerance for different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.”

It’s important to remember that not all extremist groups, whether Islamist, far-right or other, will commit terrorist or violent acts. However, some groups pose particular threats, both online and offline.

Resources

A downloadable booklet for parents with information about extremism and radicalisation, produced by Educate Against Hate.

A Metropolitan police fact file including what is and is not defined as terrorism, and links to contact the Met.

The FAST website provides support for families whose children have travelled to conflict zones or who may be about to plot, or commit, acts of terror in the UK.

NSPCC advice on the dangers of radicalisation and details of their helpline.