PREVENT responds to the challenges that can occur as a result of extremism and radicalism, reducing the threat of terrorism from those who pose such views. Therefore, understanding the meaning of those terms is important.


Terrorism is the use or threat of action, both in and outside the UK, designed to influence any government organisation or to intimidate the public. To be considered as terrorism, these acts must be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.

Examples include:

  • Serious violence against a person or damage to property
  • Endangering a person's life
  • Creating a serious risk to the health or safety of the public


The government defines extremism in the PREVENT strategy as the 'vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, tolerance and individual liberty'. The definition of extremism also includes calls for the death of a member of the armed forces, both in the UK and overseas.


Radicalisation refers to the process in which a person comes to sympathise with and support terrorist or extremist views. There is no obvious profile of a person that is at risk of radicalisation, and the process itself can be different for each individual. Although it does not necessarily happen overnight, for some radicalisation can be a short process, whereas for others, it can occur gradually over a period of years.