Over 3,000 youngsters referred to Prevent programme in one year

Posted On: 
27th December 2016

New figures show that over 3,000 people under the age of 18 were referred to the Government's anti-extremism programme in the space of a year.

A senior police officer said Prevent was 'fundamental' to countering extremism
Credit: 
PA

The statistics show that in the year to March 2016 a total of 7,500 people were referred to the Prevent programme, with more than half of referrals relating to Islamist extremism. 

Of that total 3,100 were under the age of 18, while some 610 were under the age of 10. 

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Since July 2015 teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspected extremist activity to police.

The programme has come under fire, with the Government's independent reviewier of terror legislation saying it has caused "mistrust" and "grievance" among British Muslims.

NOT A 'SPYING OPERATION'

But the senior police officer leading the Prevent strategy was "absolutely fundamental" to countering extremism and not a "spying operation" 

Simon Cole, the chief constable of Leicestershire Police, said the aim of the strategy was to provide "help and support" for those at risk of radicalisation. 

"It's sometimes presented in quite hysterical terms as part of a sort of spying operation," he said.

"Actually it isn't that. It's quite mundane, almost."

Mr Cole also argued it was "really likely" that interventions from Prevent had stopped terrorist offences being committed, though he said it was "hard to empirically demonstrate that". 

The latest set of figures show that of the 7,500 referrals to Prevent, some 10% were described as having a "counter-terrorism vulnerability".

In 37% of cases no further action was taken, and another 28% of referrals are still being considered.