36% Rise in Right Wing Extremism Reports in UK, While Radical Islamist Referrals Decrease

The number of people referred to the UK’s terrorism-prevention program (Prevent) over concerns related to extreme right-wing activity jumped by 36% in 2017/18. At the same time, referrals for concerns related to radical Islamism decreased by 14%.

In 2017/18, of the 7,318 individuals referred, 3,197 were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism and 1,312 were referred for concerns related right wing extremism.

The sectors accounting for the highest number of referrals in 2017/18 were the education sector (2,462; 33%) and the police (2,364; 32%). Of the 7,318 individuals referred in total, the majority (57%) were aged 20 years or under, and the majority were male (87%). The largest proportion of individuals referred was from London (23%), followed by the North East region of England (17%).

The UK’s counter-radicalization strategy includes Channel – a voluntary program which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. For the first time a similar number of individuals have received Channel support for concerns relating to Islamist and right wing extremism.

Of the 7,318 individuals referred to the Prevent programme in 2017/18, 3,096 (42%) left the process requiring no further action, 2,902 (40%) left the process and were signposted to alternative services prior to Channel discussions taking place, and 1,314 (18%) were deemed suitable, through preliminary assessment, to be discussed at a Channel panel.

Of the 1,314 individuals discussed at a Channel panel, 920 (70%) did not receive Channel support, and 564 (61%) of these individuals were referred to other services. The remaining 394 individuals received Channel support following a Channel panel. Of these, 298 (76%) individuals have subsequently left the process, and 96 (24%) are currently still receiving Channel support. Of those who have left the Channel process, 251 (84%) did so with no further terrorism-related concerns. The remaining 47 (16%) individuals withdrew from the Channel process, although in some cases support from other services may still be in place and any terrorism risk that might be present is managed by the police.

In October, responsibility for combating extreme right wing extremism in the UK switched from the police to MI5. As a result, far right ideology now sits in the same portfolio as Islamist terrorism and Northern Ireland related terrorism. The switch to MI5 also means that extreme right wing activity will now be officially designated as posing a major threat to national security. While no statistics are yet available for the whole of 2018, four right wing extremism plots were foiled in the UK between March 2017 and March 2018.

Read the full report here

Kylie Bielby has 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. She is an editor and contributor for Jane's by IHS Markit, a columnist for security and counter-terror publications, and a former managing editor for Homeland Security Today.

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