What to do if you think your employee is a terror risk or sympathiser

What to do if you think your employee is a terror risk or sympathiser

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27 Jun 2017

Sadly we live in dangerous times, but what can employers do to help the Action to Counter Terrorism (ACT) campaign?

If you suspect that one of your employees, customers or suppliers may be involved in terrorist activities or might be a supporter of terrorist activities, don’t be concerned about wasting Police time, REPORT any suspicious activity or behaviour to the counter terrorism police. This can be done by completing the online form at https://act.campaign.gov.uk or by telephoning the Police confidentially on 0800 789 321.

So what sort of things should you and your employees be on the lookout for? In short you should report anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with everyday life.

Some examples of behaviour which should ring alarm bells:

  • Anyone hiring or acquiring large vehicles or similar for no obvious reason
  • Anyone buying or storing a large amount of chemicals &/or chemical masks/goggles, fertilisers or gas cylinders for no obvious reasons. Are these items produced, used or stored by the employer and have quantities gone missing?
  • Anyone taking notes or photos of building security arrangements, or inspecting CCTV in an unusual way (i.e. anything that suggests the individual is scrutinising a potential security target)
  • Anyone visiting the dark web, ordering unusual items online or carrying out unusual bank transactions
  • Anyone visiting websites which appear to condone extremism or violence
  • Anyone who has illegal firearms or other weapons or has shown an interest in obtaining them
  • Anyone planning to travel (without solid reasons) international terrorist hotspots e.g. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan
  • Anyone who goes away traveling for long periods of time but is vague about where they’re going or the purpose of the trip
  • Anyone holding passports or other documents in different names, for no obvious reasons
  • Anyone having a large number of mobile phones

What additional steps should you take if you suspect that one of your employees may be involved in terrorist activities/a supporter of terrorist activities?

Within the workplace it is likely that suspicious activity or behaviour will be drawn to an employer’s attention by another employee concerned about a colleague’s activities.

If you have the right to monitor emails and web access it is likely that this will be the most likely source of information, if not then you may consider introducing the right via a consultation and information process. Either way if disturbing patterns or behaviour are evidenced our suggestion is to speak to the counter terrorism police before taking action to investigate, discipline or dismiss the employee – the police may well prefer the person to be left in situ while covert investigations are carried out (rather than be dismissed and disappear.) That said police investigations can drag on, so try to understand the timelines the police will be working to.

Covert operations aside an employer will have a duty to investigate the allegations internally in the same way as any other potential misconduct (as detailed in the Disciplinary & Dismissal Policy & Procedure.)

Employers should review their contracts of employment and HR policies to ensure that these permit the monitoring of employee e-mails and other social media, as any disciplinary investigation is likely to require analysis of these accounts.

In deciding whether disciplinary action or dismissal is justified all of the factors of the allegations will need to be looked at. If an employee inadvertently landed on a suspicious website on a one-off basis and there is no other evidence, the investigation may conclude ‘no case to answer’ and issue advice to the employee. If visits are regular and deliberate it’ll be a different matter entirely, but it’s important in all cases to conduct an appropriate fair and reasonable investigation process before deciding on disciplinary action or dismissal. Where the employee is a member of an ethnic minority a botched process could bring a discrimination claim on grounds of race, religion or belief so it is worth obtaining HR advice as soon as suspicions are raised.

For a range of disciplinary related videos see our website video section and do please toggle between pages to reveal more titles.

Lastly it is a good idea for all of us to save the anti terrorism hotline (0800 789 321) onto your mobile phones (and encourage your employees to do so,) so if we do witness things that concern us we can report the issue quickly.

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