Islamist extremism referrals up for first time since 2016

The number of people flagged up to authorities for concerns over extremism rose 10% 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 10% from a record low of 5,737 the previous year.

Of these, 1,487 were for concerns over Islamist extremism – a 6% 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% (302) of the cases taken on by Channel were cases referred over concerns relating to right-wing extremism, with 30% (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% – were aged 20 or under.

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Categories: News, Prevent, Referrals, violent extremism