Extremism: More young Britons at risk

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, 27 July 2015.
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, 27 July 2015. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • More than 800 minors - 84 of them under 12 - were referred to a British government programme to counter radicalisation over a two-year period, official data released on Monday showed.

Between April 2012 and June last year, 834 minors under the age of 18 were reported to the Channel programme, which is aimed at helping young people seen as vulnerable to Islamic extremist ideologies.

The figures were released by the National Police Chiefs Council after a freedom-of-information request by Britain's Press Association news agency.

They showed that the number of referrals has been increasing. From a 12-month period starting in 2012, a total of 290 youths and children were reported to Channel.

That number rose to 423 the next year. Between April 2012 and June last year, about 2,330 people in total were referred to Channel.

Security Minister John Hayes said the total number since 2012 was "over 4,000 referrals", indicating a sharp increase over the past year. "Referrals to Channel have increased since 2014 but we have dedicated sufficient resources to the programme to cope with demand."

The council said one in five referrals leads to a support programme for the individual.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to clamp down on home-grown extremists with new laws to be put forward later this year, and has urged young Britons not to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Extremism: More young Britons at risk'. Print Edition | Subscribe