This research examines a new and developing area of family law: radicalisation cases in the family courts. These cases, which only began to appear before the UK’s family courts in early 2015, concern children who have been deemed to be at risk of radicalisation, or at risk of being involved in terrorist activities.
The family courts have dealt with these cases in three main ways: by making children a ward of the court; by seizing passports; and by removing children from their family homes. The goal has been to prevent children from travelling to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, or engaging in terrorist activity at home. Whilst the phenomenon of children at risk of radicalisation was new to the family courts in 2015, the use of wardship orders, passport seizures, and the removal of children from their families has a long history in other cases where children have been deemed at risk from some form of dangerous behaviour. This research analyses these new radicalisation cases in the context of existing jurisprudence and academic literature on how the family courts typically deal with children at risk from a variety of dangerous behaviours. In doing so, the research addresses the core research question: how does the family court’s recent approach to children at risk of radicalisation converge with, or deviate from, the way in which the family court deals with children at risk?