Brian Sims

Number of young people arrested for terrorism offences hits record high

THE LATEST data released by the Home Office shows that 2023 witnessed the highest number of terrorism arrests of young people since records began on 11 September 2001. Of the 219 arrests made for terrorism-related offences last year, 19% of them were young people aged 17 and under.

As a result of this, Counter Terrorism Policing is once again appealing to members of the public to take action and report any concerns they have about family and friends who are potentially being radicalised by harmful content.

Richard Smith, acting senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, explained: “We take no pleasure from the increasing numbers of young people we’re seeing in our investigations and casework. While our role is to stop anyone – no matter their age – from committing terrorism offences or planning to cause harm to the public, it’s truly shocking that almost one in every five of our arrests involves a young person.”

Smith continued: “For several years now, we’ve warned about the risk of children and young people who are becoming involved in terrorism-related activity. The latest statistics reaffirm our concerns.”

Further, Smith observed: “Young people susceptible to radicalisation need protection and support to prevent them being drawn into terrorism. I implore parents and guardians to pay close attention to the young people in their lives and look out for the signs that they may be viewing, sharing or even creating terrorist content.”

Variety of offences

In 2023, there were 52 more arrests for terrorism offences than in the previous year, which represents an increase of 31% and the highest number of arrests made in a single year since 2019.

From Jacob Graham who wanted to kill 50 people in a bombing campaign through to Mohamed Al Bared who was building a drone for Daesh, 2023 witnessed a wide variety of terrorism-related arrests.

Richard Smith affirmed: “Last year, we arrested more people for terrorism offences than we have done in any of the four years previously. We are working at pace, day and night, to keep the public safe. The role of the public in our mission to keep people safe cannot be underestimated. We’re asking people to trust to their instincts and report anything that doesn’t feel right. Reporting will not ruin lives, but it could well save them.”

Campaign of action

Last summer, Counter Terrorism Policing worked with Manchester Arena attack survivor and Gen Z influencer Max Balegde to launch a campaign of action aimed at young people.

For the first time, Max told his personal story about the 2017 terror attack as part of the campaign which aims to encourage vigilance and empower young people to report anything that doesn’t feel right.

Anyone who’s concerned that someone might be taking a dangerous path should immediately seek advice and support from ACT Early.

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