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17 Nov, 2020 11:26

FIVEFOLD increase in number of children investigated for links to right-wing extremism in UK – report

FIVEFOLD increase in number of children investigated for links to right-wing extremism in UK – report

Newly obtained government figures show a dramatic increase in the number of British children who have been investigated for possible ties to far-right extremism, Sky News reported.

Sky News cited Home Office data obtained through a freedom of information request in its report.

A total of 682 children were referred to the government's counterterrorism Channel program in 2017-2018 over concerns about their possible links to the far-right, compared with 131 in 2014-2015, the outlet said. Of the minors referred to the program in 2017-2018, 24 were under the age of 10.

The aim of the Channel program is to provide early support to people who are "vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism," according to its website.

Sky News also noted that for the first time since the data has been recorded, the number of cases linked to the far right has come close to the number of cases linked to Islamist radicalism in the year up to March 2019. Out of 5,738 referrals across all age groups, 1,404 were tied to concerns over Islamism and 1,389 were tied to concerns over right-wing extremism. More than half of the referrals were related to people aged 20 or younger.

British media reported earlier this year that the banned neo-Nazi group National Action and other far-right groups have been disseminating propaganda in places of education, as well as actively using live streams on YouTube and social media to spread their ideology and recruit young members.

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Exit UK, a group that helps people leave far-right groups, told the Daily Mirror last month that one person had sent out 1,000 USB sticks with 30 neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim videogames to young people.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old man from London was sentenced to two years in a young offender institution after pleading guilty to several counts of terrorism-related crimes. He began posting images and messages on an online neo-Nazi forum when he was 16, and had shared links to a number of books on how to make bombs and weapons.

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