AS THE world begins to consider what can be done to avoid a repeat of the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, one Monmouthshire firm is leading the way in stamping out terrorism before it starts.

VICTVS Ltd, based at Wyastone Business Park just outside Monmouth, runs special training for organisations covered by the UK government’s new Prevent Duty anti-terrorism initiative– which includes schools, universities, childcare providers, prisons, the police and others.

The new strategy law, which was launched came into force in July, requires staff and volunteers in these organisations to carry out Home Office-approved training, helping them spot the signs of extremism, as well as understanding what drives people to become radicalised.

Victvs was set up in September 2013 by former soldier Ben Clayson, teacher Andrew Gregory and professor of Islamic banking at the University of Bolton, Mohammed Abdel-Haq, in response to the new rules. Participants are required to carry out and pass an online training course, after which a representative from the firm visits to hold a workshop.

Mr Clayson said: “It’s very important that professionals understand what the Prevent Duty expects of them.

“We take them through some of the reasons someone might be drawn towards violent extremism, we explore some of the signs someone might be going through a process of radicalisation and we explain to them how they should respond to any concerns they have.”

The firm – which also has offices in London and Blackburn – covers the entire UK, but Mr Clayson said the majority of its work involved teachers and staff at schools, with an aim to spotting the signs of young people becoming radicalised.

Mr Clayson said building awareness of the signs of radicalisation among those who come into contact with people who may be vulnerable was an important step in stamping out extremism.

“So what we’ve tried to do is design a syllabus that is really accessible, that deals with the complex issues and builds awareness but does it in a non-antagonistic and non-inflammatory way,” he said.

“We try to equip people with the tools and the knowledge they need to respond constructively instead of shying away from it and being fearful of it.

“No one is expecting teachers to become counter-terrorism experts, but having the space to have that free conversation and discuss those complex issues is very important for giving them the confidence they need.”

He added in order to help people understand the message he found it helpful to use well-known historical examples.

“One of the examples I recently used was the gunpowder plot,” he said. “That was religiously motivated violent extremism and was intended to start a popular revolution in the UK.

“The fact that it was in 1605 doesn’t make it any less of an act of terrorism.

“The next one would be Hitler and the Third Reich.

“Was Hitler a violent extremist? Well, he was hell-bent on imposing his world view on the entire world using as much violence required.

“Violent extremism unfortunately is a historical norm.”

Despite the large focus in newspapers, on the internet and on television on Islamic extremism, especially following the Paris attacks – which the so-called Islamic State terrorist group later said it was responsible for – the courses run by Victvs are very careful not to single out any specific religious, ethnic or societal groups.

Mr Clayson said: “Our training programmes are the only ones that we know of that don’t make any reference to any ethnic group or any section of society.

"That’s very important to us because we understand terrorism as an issue shifts around.

“Violent extremism and radicalisation are not exclusive to one part of UK society.”

He added other forms of radicalisation reported by people taking part in the company’s schemes had reported included far-right extremism and political terrorism.

The firm’s work has been praised by Monmouth MP David Davies, who recently visited the office to meet staff and hear more about their training schemes.

The Conservative MP said: “I was very impressed with the training package that Victvs Ltd is offering.

“It fits in with one of the planks of the government’s anti-terrorism strategy which is to spot problems early and highlight them to the relevant authorities who will then look to provide early interventions and support.

“We face an enormous challenge over the coming years and it is good to know that a local company has the expertise to play a big role in preventing future outrages.”

Mr Clayson said one of the most important was to tackle what caused them to become radicalised in the first place.

“The common things that can contribute to someone being drawn down this path to violence can include being lonely and isolated or feeling they have a grievance they want to settle,” he said.

He added psychological issues also often played a part, saying: “When you add mental health issues to that like depression or anxiety or paranoia it suddenly becomes a bigger risk. “Every case has to be dealt with individually.

“There’s no silver bullet for violent extremism and radicalisation, but building good, solid foundation level awareness is helpful.”

He said attempting to restrict people’s thoughts or beliefs was not the way forward, but rather to spot when those beliefs potentially put others in danger.

“One of the great things about the UK is it’s not illegal to have extreme views or extreme beliefs,” he said. “It becomes illegal when that extreme view or belief is linked with violence – when you’re either choosing to use violence to express your beliefs or encouraging others to do so.”

“Violent extremist organisations strive to create divisions and worsen divisions in society because they have that binary view of the world and they want that to manifest, so it’s in their interests to divide everybody.

“The message that we try to promote is inclusive and non-antagonistic. It promotes tolerance and understanding because violence begets violence.

“That’s a very old phrase – it was said well before any of these groups came into existence.”

For more information on the work carried out by Victvs call 01600 891 548 or visit