The number of young people arrested on suspicion of terrorism related offenses in the U.K. continues to rise, statistics reveal.
Figures released by the Home Office outline how police made 166 counterterrorism arrests in the year to December 31, 2022. Of those arrested, 32 were under 17 – an 11% increase compared to the previous calendar year.
Counter Terrorism Policing’s Deputy Senior National Coordinator Richard Smith said: “The reality is that children and teenagers, some as young as 12 or 13, are now featuring more frequently in our investigative casework.
“The statistics are stark and I know that they’re a difficult read for the public, particularly parents and carers – as police officers and investigators we absolutely share that concern.
“Our priority is always to protect the public and, at the sharpest end of the threat, individuals will be charged and prosecuted for criminal offenses. However, for others, there may be different options.
“When anyone enters the counterterrorism system, we will always consider whether multi-agency interventions and safeguarding protocols will help mitigate the risk to the public. These can also work in the best interests of the individual, which is especially important when dealing with young people.
“Much like the terrorist threat, our approach is always evolving and we have a responsibility to consider all legitimate options to keep people safe.”
Last month, the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing Matt Jukes highlighted continued concerns about the impact extreme online content is having on the youngest people in society, and how it can play a significant and influential role in the radicalization process.
ACT Early was launched in 2019, to provide support and advice for anyone who has concerns about a friend, family member or their child.
Commander Richard Smith continued: “Time and time again we are seeing online content, spaces and channels playing a big role in the radicalization process and it’s important that anyone with young people in their families or their lives are aware of this.
“If you see any content that is concerning you then report it via the iREPORTit app or police, and if you’re concerned that someone might be taking a dangerous path then seek support via ACT Early.”
Read more at Counter Terrorism Policing