Senior Counter Terrorism officers say upward trend in youth arrests is ‘of real concern’, as figures reveal that more under 18’s were arrested in the year to March 2022, than any other annual period.
The latest Home Office figures relating to the police’s use of powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 show that there were 196 arrests for terrorist-related activity between March 2021 and March 2022.
Of those arrested, 15% were aged 18 or under, which equates to 29 teenagers being detained for suspected terrorist offences. In the year to March 2021, this figure was 12%.
Counter Terrorism Policing’s Senior National Coordinator, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, said:
“I know that a lot of people will be shocked to learn of this continued trend of children being arrested for incredibly serious, terrorist offences. It is of real concern to us, to see children featuring more often and more prominently in our ongoing investigations. Unfortunately, this is the reality for our officers, investigators and caseworkers across the country, who are knocking on the doors of family homes.
“There is certainly evidence that this younger generation of offenders are accessing and viewing dangerous propaganda online. Something we believe has been accelerated by a greater dependence on technology during the pandemic.
“We are working around the clock to disrupt and deter those intent on committing these types of offences, but the support we receive from the public is crucial to our investigations.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Haydon also reiterated the help and advice available for families, parents and siblings who may be worried about a child in their family.
“I would encourage families to be as open as possible in talking about these issues, particularly about online activity. Talking about terrorism at the dinner table might not be a popular idea, but conversations can create space for early intervention, which is far better than a potentially life-changing criminal investigation.
“We would much rather be providing different forms of support, at an earlier stage, rather than making arrests.
“It can be very difficult to know what to do if you notice a change in someone you love. But if you are worried they are being drawn towards extremism my advice would be to act early and seek help and advice.”
If you are concerned about someone you love, and think they may be at risk of radicalisation then you can find advice and support at ACT Early.