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U.K. Police See Upward Trend in Young People Arrested for Terrorism Offenses

Two teenagers have been arrested in the U.K. on suspicion of terrorism offenses, as part of an ongoing investigation being led by the Metropolitan Police’s (Met) Counter Terrorism Command.

An 18-year-old man was arrested at an address in Essex on May 18 on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. He was detained and a warrant of further detention application was granted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court, allowing detectives to keep him in custody until May 25. He is being held at a London police station while enquiries continue.

On May 20, a 17-year-old girl was arrested at an address in east London as part of the same investigation. She was taken to a London police station and a warrant of further detention application was granted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court, allowing detectives to keep her in custody until May 27.

The investigation related to alleged offenses linked to extreme islamist ideology.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “We have seen three teenagers arrested this week by Met officers for terrorism offenses, albeit as part of separate investigations. We need to let this investigation run its course, but it is a further indication of a concerning upward trend in police action against younger people for terrorism-related matters.

“Across the country, police are working hard to try and prevent young people from being radicalized, and acting quickly when it is suspected that offenses have been committed.

“Police rely on information from the public in our mission to tackle terrorism. If you see or hear something unusual or suspicious and think someone may be engaging in terrorist activity, trust your instincts and contact police.”

The arrests come as a 14-year-old boy from Darlington was convicted for possessing terrorist related documents. Following his arrest by Counter Terrorism Policing North East in June 2021, it was apparent the teenager held extreme views. He was charged in January 2022 with three terrorism offenses and pleaded guilty. On May 20, he was sentenced to a 12 month referral order.

Police urge the public to visit the www.actearly.uk website to find out how to seek help and support for anyone at risk of being radicalized.

Detective Superintendent Matt Davison of Counter Terrorism Policing North East said: “We know it can seem like a big step to share your worries but in many cases the right support will come through education and health professionals and there isn’t a need for further police involvement. The key, however, is to report your concerns early so we can agree the appropriate support before the situation escalates into something more serious, or offenses are committed”.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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