Eight potential extremists are being identified in Britain every day, of whom nearly half are teenagers, it has emerged. Experts have ascribed the high rate to the “lure of extremism” of both Islamic and “far right” extremism, and the symbiotic relationship between the two.
Between June and August 2015, nearly 800 people across England and Wales were referred to the government’s Channel Programme, designed to provide early intervention for people who may be drawn in to terrorism. Of those, 312 were under the age of 18. The figure is equivalent to eight people a day, although in practice July saw more than twice as many referrals as August.
The figures, revealed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in response to a freedom of information request by the Press Association, represent a significant increase on previous figures, outstripping the total referrals for the whole of the 2012-13 period in just three months.
Since July, schools, councils and other public bodies have had a legal requirement to identify people at risk of radicalisation. However, experts say the rise in referrals may also have much to do with the increasing lure of extremism.
Haras Rafiq, managing director of anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, attributed the high rate of referrals to “the lure of extremism [which had] increased over the last year both from an Islamist and far-right perspective”.
Mr Rafiq said: “There is a symbiotic relation between the two. More effort needs to come from civil society so that we build resilience in our communities so that these numbers come down.”
Security minister John Hayes, commented: “As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people.”
However, others are sceptical regarding the program, which was first launched in 2012. One social media user, who asked to remain anonymous, suggested there is “a real danger that the Channel Programme will follow the same trajectory as the ASBO: “Hey Mo bro, guess what? I’m on the CP! Wicked innit!” “Ah man, you’re so cool. I gonna shout shit and stuff to get me on it too.””
Labour’s Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) were scrapped by Home Secretary Theresa May in May 2012 after it was found that they had become a “badge of honour” among young people.