Rise in extreme right-wing radicalisation and child referrals – Prevent

For the second year running ‘extreme right-wing’ radicalisation exceeds ‘Islamist’ radicalisation referrals to Prevent, according to new Home Office figures, which also shows a worrying trend of child referrals.

Prevent referrals increased by 30% to 6,406 in the year ending March 31, 2022, compared to the previous year.

The number of referrals for ‘extreme right-wing radicalisation’ concerns rose to 1,309 from 1,229 last year and was more than “Islamist” referrals (1,027), which decreased from the previous year.  

But most referrals, 2,127 or 33% of the total, were for individuals with a vulnerability present but no ideology or CT risk — ironic, given that Prevent was created to tackle the rise of violence motivated by ideology.  

The number of Channel cases, which are considered more serious, concerning ‘extreme right-wing’ radicalisation (42%) far exceeded those of ‘Islamist radicalisation.’

The data comes as rumours circulate that the impending release of the long-delayed review of the contentious Prevent strategy will focus away from the far right.

A human rights charity raised concerns last week that the Home Office may have “interfered significantly” in report. Rights & Security International obtained emails that potentially reveals interference by the Home Office in the review headed by Sir William Shawcross, raising doubts about its impartiality.

Alarm over child referrals  

The Education sector had the highest number of referrals to Prevent (2,305; 36%), followed by the Police (1,808; 28%).  

“The year ending 31 March 2022 saw the highest proportion of referrals received from the Education sector since comparable data are available,” said the Home Office report into the figures.

“The public health restrictions in place due to COVID-19, especially the closure of Education settings, likely impacted the data in both year ending March 2021 and year ending March 2022,” it added.

Muslim organisations claim that the new Home Office figures demonstrate that the counter-extremism policy traumatises and targets children.

“Despite committing no crime or having any intention of committing any crime, these 1,829 children will have been interrogated by counter-terrorism officers, some without their parents’ presence or knowledge,” said a statement released by Dr Layla Aitlhadj and Professor John Holmwood, co-authors of the People’s Review of Prevent report.

“They have been left deeply traumatised by the experience and distrustful of the very people they should trust – teachers and the police.”

CAGE’s Head of Public Advocacy Anas Mustapha said: “It’s alarming that the education sector continues to be the largest referrer of cases to Prevent. This underlines how the sector has been co-opted to deliver on what are surveillance operations.”

“Proportionally, Prevent remains discriminatory against minority communities. Prevent enables a system of surveillance that clamps down on dissent and freedom of religion that can be weaponised against any group.  

“The Shawcross review demonstrates this clearly in how it brazenly attempts to refocus PREVENT on Muslims.”

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