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Number of individuals 'at risk' of radicalisation increases

Number of individuals 'at risk' of radicalisation increases

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday March 25 2014

The Independent reports on the results of a Freedom of Information request showing a sharp increase in the number of under 18s who have been identified as being ‘at risk’ of radicalisation and referred to the controversial Channel programme. The number of young people identified as potential violent extremists has increased by more than 25 per cent in the past year.

Al Jazeera also reports on a study by researchers at Queen Mary University which finds that youth, wealth, and a full-time education are risk factors associated with violent radicalisation. In contrast, religious practice, mental health, social inequality and political engagement were not significant factors. 

Since last April, at least 940 people have been referred for assessment under the initiative. Although ACPO’s had published figures of the total number of referrals up to March last year, these new figures include a breakdown by age and provides an updated total to the end of January. 

According to the Independent, 153 children under 11, 690 children aged 12-15, and 554 aged 16-17 have been referred since 2007. A further 2,196 adults have also been assessed. 

The total of 940 so far in 2013-14 marks an increase of just over a quarter on 748 cases in 2012-13.

The Independent notes the sharp increase is likely to cause further concern in Muslim communities following London Mayor Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the state should intervene in Muslim family life to protect children from ‘child abuse’ by ‘radicalised’ parents. 

On the surface, the sharp increase seems to be supported by Queen Mary’s new research study. The study, led by a cultural psychology professor Kamaldeep Bhui, used 16 indicators to measure sympathy or condemnation of actions broadly defined as “terrorism”, including the use of bombs or suicide bombs. Using proportional quota sampling, the study included a survey of 608 people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin men and women, aged 18-45, of Muslim heritage and living in East London and Bradford. 

It suggests that while religious practice, mental religious practice, mental health, social inequality and political engagement were not significant factors; youth, wealth, and a full-time education on the other hand were risk factors. 

While the study finds that there was a higher risk of having sympathies for radicalisation in the 18-20 age group compared to 26-35 and 41-45, it does not explain the sharp increase in the number of referrals of under-18s. 

However, the study’s finding that religious practice is not a significant factor seems to support ACPO’s figures that only 22 per cent of cases were assessed to be vulnerable to being drawn towards terrorism as well as receiving further support. It becomes deeply disconcerting considering that ACPO reports that the Channel programme primarily focus on Muslim communities because “Islamic inspired terrorists currently pose the greatest threat to the UK”. 

Jahangir Mohammed, co-author of Cage’s report “The Prevent Strategy: A Cradle to Grave Police-State” stated “: “These figures show that the net of those considered susceptible to radicalism and potentially terrorism is being cast to pick up more and more people. 

“The idea that there are 843 people under the age of 15 that are potential terrorists is simply ludicrous. The figures are a sign of a failed policy.” 

The Cage report highlights that the government’s guidance for staff include indicators of propensity to terrorism related activities. These indicators “are specific to a religious group and do not address extremism in all its forms, (such as the re-emergence of the far right and the ideology inspired Anders Breivik). They could potentially breach anti-discrimination legislation.” 

The Home Affairs select committee report in to the Roots of Violent Radicalisation, published February 2012, focused on ‘universities, prisons, religious institutions and the internet’, omitting the younger age bracket from its wider consideration. The report did nonetheless shed some light on the complex factors that lead to radicalisation beyond the stock criticism levelled at universities and prisons.

The Taskforce on Tackling Radicalisation report includes a section on schools with the report noting “The government must do more to address extremism in locations where it can exert control, such as prisons, and increase oversight where it is needed, such as some independent and religious schools.”

The growth in the number of young people brought under the purview of the Channel programme and the lack of any independent oversight on the assessment made of their ‘at risk’ status is cause for concern when one considers Arun Kundnani’s analysis of the factors used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to determine which Muslims are to be regarded as ‘dangerous’.


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