Thursday, October 08, 2015

More than 300 children identified as an extremism risk in just three months as fears grow over ISIS recruitment drive

  • 796 referred to Channel counter-terror scheme, including 312 children
  • Figure for June to August has doubled since first three months of 2015
  • David Cameron says young Britons drawn into ISIS makes him 'sick'
More than 300 children were identified as being at risk of radicalisation in just three months amid growing fears about youngsters being drawn into terrorism.

The total number of people referred to a government programme to tackle recruitment by fanatical groups soared to 796 between June and August, double the figure in the first three months of this year.

Ministers vowed to challenge the 'twisted narrative' that is corrupting some young and vulnerable people.

The Channel project, set up by the Home Office in the wake of the 7/7 bombings, has reported a sharp rise in the number of referals.

At one point this summer, 10 people per day were having their details sent to the counter-terror project.

It comes after a new legal requirement was placed on public bodies including schools and councils to stop people being drawn into terrorism.

The government warns that efforts must be stepped up to stop young people being lured into groups like ISIS, also known as Islamic State and ISIL

.David Cameron used his speech to the Tory party conference yesterday to warn the country must 'really confront extremism'.

'When I read what some young people born and brought up in this country are doing, it makes me feel sick to my stomach,' he said.
'Girls not much older than my eldest daughter, swapping loving family homes and straight-A futures for a life of servitude under ISIL, in a land of violence and oppression.

'Boys who could do anything they wanted in Britain – who have benefited from all this country stands for – instead ending up in the desert wielding a knife.'

According to latest figures, obtained by the Press Association, 796 people were referred to Channel between June and August this year including 312 who were under 18.

There were more referrals between June and August than for the whole of 2012-13 - the first year the scheme was rolled out across England and Wales.

The number is also more than double the level of referrals recorded in the first three months of 2014-15.

If the current rate were replicated over 12 months, it would mean the annual total has increased by four-fold in three years to surpass 3,000.

Government guidance says Channel 'may be appropriate for anyone who is vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism' and is 'about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism'.

Haras Rafiq, managing director at security think tank Quilliam, said the latest scale of referrals comes after 'the lure of extremism has increased over the last year both from an Islamist and far-right perspective'.

When I read what some young people born and brought up in this country are doing, it makes me feel sick to my stomach
Prime Minister David Cameron 
He added: 'There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

'More effort needs to come from civil society so that we build resilience in our communities so that these numbers come down.'

Not all of those referred are subsequently judged as being vulnerable to radicalisation.

Previous estimates suggested that one in five cases were assessed as needing support from Channel programmes, with the rest passed to other more appropriate services. 

Security Minister John Hayes said: 'As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people.

'Since Channel was rolled out nationally in April 2012, there have been over 4,000 referrals and hundreds of people at risk of being drawn into terrorism have been provided with support.

'Referrals to Channel have increased, but only a small percentage of these go on to require specialist intervention support.

'We have dedicated sufficient resources to the programme to cope with demand and we will keep this position under close review.'

No comments: