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One child a day referred to counter-radicalisation programme

Children and teenagers are being referred to the Government's counter-radicalisation programme at a rate of one a day, new figures show.

Between April 2012 and June 2014 a total of 834 under 18-year-olds were reported to Channel, which provides support for those identified as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

Around one in ten - 84 - were under 12, data from the National Police Chiefs Council ( NPCC) show.

The figures indicate that referrals are increasing.

In 2012/13 a total of 290 youths and children were reported to Channel, with the number rising by almost 50% to 423 the following year.

In the three months from April last year 121 under 18s were referred. If that rate continued throughout the year, it would result in an annual total of 484.

Overall, 2,335 individuals across all age groups have been earmarked for possible intervention by the de-radicalisation scheme in two and a quarter years, the figures show.

The Home Office said that since the Channel programme was rolled out nationally in April 2012 there have been more than 4,000 referrals and confirmed that the number has increased since last year.

A regional breakdown shows that the highest number of referrals during the period were made in the North West, with 478, followed by the South East (375) and London (369).

The NPCC figures were obtained by the Press Association following a Freedom of Information request.

Referrals could be made by a range of organisations such as schools, social services and health bodies.

The NPCC has said when releasing previous data that many of the referrals of youngsters will not have been suitable for Channel and will have been passed to other more appropriate services.

Overall around one in five cases require "supportive interventions", the organisation said.

Channel, which was first piloted in 2007, is part of the Prevent strategy.

Prevent is one of four strands of Contest, the acronym given to the Government's multi-pronged counter-terrorism programme.

Government guidance says Channel "may be appropriate for anyone who is vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism" and is "about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism".

Prevent has come under close scrutiny in recent months. Earlier this year, Dal Babu, a Muslim former chief superintendent, said the strategy has become a "toxic brand".

Mizanur Rahman, who was sent on a programme aimed at turning him away from extreme views, claimed he spent most of his time playing pool.

It also emerged that Brusthom Ziamani, who was jailed for 22 years for hatching a plot to behead a British soldier, had been spoken to by Prevent officers while on bail but he refused to engage with the programme.

Under laws passed earlier this year, public bodies including councils, prisons, NHS trusts and schools were placed under a statutory duty to identify and report those vulnerable to radicalisation.

Security Minister John Hayes said: "As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people.

"Since Channel was rolled out nationally in April 2012, there have been over 4,000 referrals and hundreds of people at risk of being drawn into violent extremism have been provided with support.

"Referrals to Channel have increased since 2014 but we have dedicated sufficient resources to the programme to cope with demand. We will keep this position under close review."


From Belfast Telegraph