Thousands of kids referred to Government anti-terror programme

Posted On: 
9th November 2017

Thousands of children were referred to a government anti-extremism programme last year but just a fraction received support for their alleged views, official figures have revealed.

The Government insisted the Prevent programme was "helping to save lives and keep us safe"
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Some 2,127 under-15s were flagged to the Prevent strategy in 2015/16, 300 of whom were investigated further and 100 of whom got specialist support through the so-called Channel scheme.

Overall, 7,631 people were referred to the programme - most of whom were under 20-years-old - but just 5% (381) went on to the next stage.

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The Government insisted the Prevent programme was “helping to save lives and keep us safe” but Labour raised concerns about the “tiny number of people who receive any specialist help”.

Critics have argued the controversial scheme unfairly targets Muslims and concerns have been raised that it has become a "toxic" brand. 

According to the data, the number of referrals that were investigated further was up fourfold since the scheme began, from 238 in 2012/13 to 1,072 last year.

More than double the number of people went on to receive support last year compared to the first year after the programme began, from 159 in 2012/13 to 381 last year.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told PoliticsHome: "The rise in the Prevent referrals is troubling, and so too is the tiny number of people who receive any specialist help.

"Either the rise in referrals is completely unjustified, or the Prevent programme simply isn't working and is failing to address real threats.

"Labour is pledged to review the entire programme and Government claims that it is working well simply don't stand up."

Of all the referrals in 2015/16 some 65% (almost 5,000) were over concerns related to Islamism extremism and 10% (759) for right wing extremism.

Of those, some 264 of the former group went on to receive support while 99 of the latter did so.

The Home Office said that of those supported by the Channel programme in 2015/16, 83% left with their vulnerability successfully reduced.

But one in six referred for support refused to co-operate and dropped out of the scheme.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said: “At its heart, the Prevent programme is just one of a number of ways to safeguard vulnerable people from exploitation.

“The voluntary Channel scheme has seen real results in helping divert people away from terrorism and violence. The programme is helping to save lives and keep us safe.”

Labour MP Naz Shah said it was “alarming” that many young people were being referred but seeing little further action.