Record number of suspected extremists referred to deradicalisation programme in UK

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LONDON: The Home Office statistics show that 561 suspected extremists were put on the Channel programme — which seeks to steer people away from dangerous beliefs — during the 12 months to the end of March. That was 183 more people than the previous year, when referrals totalled 368, and the highest recorded so far. 

One reason for the surge is an increase in the number of far-Right cases, with 254 of this type of suspected extremist put onto the programme over the year.

According to an Evening standard report, that was higher than the 210 suspected Islamists placed on the scheme and is the first time that Right-wing radicalisation cases have outstripped those of potential support for Islamic State, al Qaeda or similar ideology.

The data will reinforce concerns about the increased threat posed by far-Right extremism and the continuing danger of Islamist ideology in the wake of the London Bridge murders last month by convicted terrorist Usman Khan.

Police and MI5 have also foiled 25 terror plots since March 2017 — a third of which were motivated by far-Right beliefs and the rest Islamist — and continue to warn about the intense level of extremist activity in the country.

The figures provide some evidence to justify the referrals to both the initial Prevent scheme and the more intensive Channel programme, for those whose attitudes give the most serious concern.

They also show that Prevent referrals of adults and children deemed vulnerable to radicalisation fell to 5,738. That is the lowest annual total recorded so far for this type of initial referral and suggests that teachers, police and others who make such referrals might be being more careful in raising the alarm.

However, it does not equate to a drop in the number of potentially dangerous extremists because cases showing the most serious concern, and requiring a Channel de-radicalisation course, have risen sharply.

The figures also show that although 402 people placed on the Channel programme left during the year with “no further radicalisation concerns”, another 60 pulled out of the voluntary scheme without the authorities being satisfied about the safety of their beliefs.

Of the remaining cases, 87 people were still on the Channel programme when the data was compiled, while 12 others were withdrawn because it was no longer deemed appropriate for them to be on it. The reasons for this are not specified.