With the Prime Minister setting out his latest set of measures to deal with counter-extremism this week, it seems as if more and more guidelines are being published, but are they being incorporated into social work practice, and how effective will they be?

Whilst extremism is a broad phenomenon, the Family Court will be concerned mainly with the radicalisation of children and vulnerable adults. In order to prepare the family sector for these types of cases, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, released a set of guidelines this month on how he envisages the cases to be processed.

Magazine Community Care is keen to know if the social work sector is ready for these changes, and as such they have prepared a questionnaire to that effect, in which they seek to find out, “how well you understand [radicalisation], how you are dealing with the cases of radicalisation on your caseload, whether your local authority is supporting you and just how confident you feel about your ability to deal with a case where radicalisation is a factor.”

We hope that the family justice system has more than just The President’s Guidance and the Prime Minister’s strategy materials to work from. Ideally, there should be clear signposts to a working definition of radicalisation, and the risk factors within radicalisation, as well as psychology guidance on behaviours related to this phenomenon. In this excellent article written by Durham University Law Lecturer Alan Greene, the government’s definition of extremism (rather than radicalisation) is included. It is:

“The vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.”

So, what do you think? Is the practice guidance in this area clear and thorough, or can we expect to see children taking homemade clocks into school finding themselves subject to Care Orders?