MORE than 1,500 children – including 257 under the age of 10 – have been referred to the Government’s anti-terrorism deradicalisation scheme in the past six months, new figures reveal.
Figures released by the National Police Chief’s Council under the Freedom of Information Act show that eight children a day have been reported to the scheme since November.
The “Channel” programme was set up in the wake of the 7/7 attacks in 2005. It is a voluntary early intervention scheme designed to identify people vulnerable to extremism.
It then engages appropriate agencies to address their behaviour and keep them away from danger of exploitation and exposure to terrorist ideas.
It can include work with schools, social services, police, health and local councils.
The figures show 1,530 under-18s were referred to Channel between November 2015 and May this year, including 257 under-10, 901 aged between 10 and 16 and 372 aged between 17 and 18.
A total of 1,839 children aged under-15 were referred between January 2012 and December 2015. Since last July, under the Government’s counter-terror strategy, teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspected extremist behaviour to police as part of the anti-radicalisation strategy.
This can include support for extremist ideas that are “part of terrorist ideology”.
The obligation, introduced under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, requires “specific authorities to have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism.”
A Government spokesman said: “As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has exploited some of our vulnerable young people.
“Since Channel was rolled out nationally in April 2012, there have been many thousands of referrals and hundreds of people at risk of being drawn into terrorism have successfully been provided with support.”