Extremism referrals double in wake of United Kingdom terror attacks

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 10, 2017

Prevent, a scheme that seeks to combat extremist ideology before it leads to bloodshed, received around 200 referrals since March, which is when the first of four recent attacks in the United Kingdom occurred, Reuters reported.

Between March 22 and June 19, extremists mounted four attacks on United Kingdom soil: on the parliamentary estate in Westminster, on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, on the London Bridge area of the capital and on a mosque in North London.

He said the number of referrals made to "Prevent" by members of the public was still relatively low, with 500 made in 2016 and 2017 compared to an annual total of about 6300.

The majority of referrals come from statutory agencies, such as teachers, health and social workers, police and the security services.

'But if we are to successfully stop vulnerable people from being drawn into violent extremism, then family members, friends and community leaders must trust us sooner with their concerns.

'Not only will that possibly stop another lethal terrorist attack from taking place, but it will also potentially prevent vulnerable people from being drawn into criminal activity from which there is no coming back'.

About 60 per cent of recent referrals were related to Islamic extremists, Cole said, and 15 per cent were connected to right-wing extremism, a figure which has doubled since the murder of the MP Jo Cox last summer.

The level of referrals coming from members of the public still remains minimal, however, according to Prevent. Is it because people are not sure what to report, or are they scared of what the police will do?

It is nearly certainly a bit of both, given understandable confusion around what constitutes violent extremism (and the journey towards it) and the "toxic brand" accusation levelled against Prevent from other quarters.

Mr Cole also revealed yesterday that the Government is considering making elements of the voluntary Prevent programme compulsory.

Under Prevent, police and other organisations attempt to build relationships across the United Kingdom with members of the public - including faith leaders, teachers and doctors - and urge them to report any concerns to them.

After this, the referral will be assessed to decide if further action is needed.

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