Sixty children referred to Government’s counter-terrorism programme every week

Sixty children referred to Government’s counter-terrorism programme every week, by Hayden Smith.

In 2015/16 there were around 7,500 referrals to Prevent — a rate of 20 a day.

Of those, 3,100 were aged under 18 — with 61 of them under 10 years of age.

Prevent has been credited with playing a role in disrupting more than 150 attempted journeys to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and is also handling a growing number of cases linked to far-right extremism. …

Mr Cole, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Prevent, defended the programme. “Something that gets lost in the debate is that this is a voluntary scheme which takes place in the pre-criminal space. This is not about people who are suspected of terrorist offences. This is about people who professionals, friends, family, community members have concerns about and who need some help and support.” …

Where an ideology was identified and recorded, just over half, or around 54%, of referrals related to Islamist extremism. Nearly one in 10 referrals was linked to far-right extremism. …

Prevent was introduced following the 7/7 attacks in London as part of a wider counter-terrorism strategy known as Contest. Last year the Prevent duty was introduced, requiring organisations such as schools and local authorities to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

Christine Williams:

The entire West has become tired, frightened and weary. The fact that 60 children per week are being referred to a counter-terrorism program is indication either that the foe is relentless or that the law enforcement apparatus is overwhelmed and wearying — or both.