‘Perfect storm’ of radicalisation online during coronavirus pandemic, police warn.
More than one in 10 terror suspects arrested in Britain is a child, figures reveal amid mounting concerns over online radicalisation.
Thirteen per cent of those arrested in the 12 months to March under terrorism laws were aged under 18, up five per cent.
The Home Office says it is the highest proportion on record and comes as arrests for older age groups fall.
Police arrested 21 children on suspicion of terror offences, up from 12 the previous year. The overall total of 166 arrests is the lowest annual figure since 2011.
White people continue to make up the largest ethnic group of terror suspects, at 53 per cent of the total, followed by people of Asian appearance (30 per cent), “other” (11 per cent) and Black (6 per cent).
The head of counter-terror policing previously warned of a “new and worrying trend” of teenagers as young as 14 being investigated.
Neil Basu says the coronavirus pandemic has created a “perfect storm” in which children are spending more unsupervised time online while extremist material is spreading.
Senior officers have raised concerns that restrictions have made the signs of radicalisation harder to spot by teachers, social workers and mental health services.
Counter-terror police say lockdowns have also caused a reduction in terror arrests because the fall in overall crime means there are “fewer opportunities” to arrest suspects using other laws.
The senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, Dean Haydon, says officers are seeing concerns about increasing numbers of children being drawn into extremism “come to fruition”.
He added: “Covid-19 has driven huge numbers of people to spend a lot more time online and we have seen an increase in the volume of online extremism – much of which sits below a criminal threshold but which creates a permissive environment which makes it easier for extremists to peddle their brand of hatred.
“We cannot hope to arrest our way out of this problem – the only way we can hope to reverse this worrying prevalence of children in our arrest statistics is to stop them from being radicalised in the first place.”
Source: The IndependentCategories: News