A three-year-old child from Tower Hamlets is among thousands of Londoners identified as “at risk” of radicalisation by police.
According to a report by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), 834 under-18s children were referred to Channel, the government’s counter-radicalisation authority, at a rate of one per day between April 2012 and June 2014. Around 10 per cent of the children were under age 12.
The children were identified as potential future extremists by the police, security services, schools, social services and healthcare providers and were referred to Channel for evaluation.
Around one in five cases required “supportive interventions”, including counter-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes and the freezing of passports.
The three-year-old, who cannot be named, is “part of a wider family group” in Tower Hamlets said to have been displaying alarming behaviour.
The Home Office said there have been more than 4,000 Channel de-radicalisation referrals across all age groups since the scheme’s national rollout in 2012. Of these, London accounted for 1,069: over one in four.
The NPCC report has been described as the most revealing demonstration to date of the security threat facing Britain, with experts warning that the tally is likely to increase as the influence of the so-called Islamic State continues to persuade British citizens to travel to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria.
It has been argued that a new law requiring public bodies to refer vulnerable young people has contributed to the spike in referrals.
Speaking about the report, Government 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.”
Channel forms part of Prevent, the government’s multi-pronged counter-terrorism strategy. Although Prevent mainly targets older children and adults, it can also earmark vulnerable primary school and nursery-age children considered at risk as a result of their families conduct.
The NPCC data was obtained by the Press Association following a Freedom of Information request.