Islamist extremism referrals up for first time since 2016
The number of people flagged up to authorities for concerns over extremism rose by ten per cent last year, with the first increase in Islamist radicalisation referrals since 2016, figures show.
There were a total of 6,287 referrals to the Government’s Prevent programme between April 2019 and March 2020 – up ten per cent from a record low of 5,737 the previous year.
Of these, 1,487 were for concerns over Islamist extremism – a six per cent rise from 1,404 in the year to March 2019 and the first increase since the year ending March 2016.
The number of Prevent referrals for concerns over right-wing extremism dropped slightly in the latest year, to 1,387 from 1,388 in the 12 months to March 2019.
A further 3,203 people were flagged over a “mixed, unstable or unclear ideology”, while 210 were referred over other concerns like international and left-wing radicalisation.
With an annual budget of around £40 million, the Prevent scheme aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
It was launched after public bodies were placed under a statutory duty in 2015 to stop people being drawn into terrorism.
Anyone concerned that someone they know might be at risk can refer them.
When authorities decide there is a risk that the person referred to Prevent could be drawn into terrorism, they are then assessed as part of a scheme known as Channel and potentially taken on as a case. Engagement with the scheme is voluntary and it is not a criminal sanction.
Of the 1,424 cases examined by Channel last year, 697 were taken on as a case – the highest recorded.
Some 43 per cent (302) of the cases taken on by Channel were cases referred over concerns relating to right-wing extremism, with 30 per cent (210) for Islamist radicalisation.
The figures show most referrals came from the police and education bodies.
More than half of all those flagged up to authorities – 3,423 or 54 per cent – were aged 20 or under.