Teenagers and children accounted for half of those referred to the government’s counter-terror initiative over a 12 month period, new data reveals.
The Home Office figures show that 7,631 people were referred to the Prevent anti-terror programme in one year, between April 2015 and March 2016. Yet, just five per cent of the people reported ended up working with Channel, the deradicalisation scheme linked to it.
Of those referred in England and Wales, 2,127 (around 40 a week) were under the age of 15, including 500 young girls. A further 2,147 were aged between 15 and 20, meaning that more than half of the total number were teenagers and children.
In one case, a nine-year-old boy was referred after he announced his support for Islamic State terrorists in class.
The heavy over-representation of young people is fuelling fears that young people and second-generation migrants are more drawn to radical Islam and terror.
The uptick in youngsters identified at risk may be a result of teachers being given specialist training in spotting the signs of radicalisation and the fact they now have a legal duty to report them.
However, numerous studies have revealed how younger Muslims are more likely to be radicalised.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 12, 2016
A 2013 study, for example, found that 16 per cent of young Muslims in Belgium believed that state terrorism is “acceptable”, while 12 per cent of young Muslims in Britain said that suicide attacks against civilians in Britain can be justified.
However, the new Home Office stats also showed that more than a third of those referred to Prevent do not relate to concerns over Islamist extremism, and 10 per cent are linked to so-called right-wing extremism.
Breitbart London has reported several cases of young members of UKIP being referred to Prevent, including a 15-year-old boy labelled “far right” for supporting Marine Le Pen and making a joke about the transgendered celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
Despite the vast majority of violent extremists being Islamists, in Yorkshire, “far-right” referrals have accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the caseload, and 30 per cent of the caseload in the East Midlands.