A senior Yorkshire counter-terrorism official has revealed the “growing concern” at the danger posed by far-right groups in the wake of the murder of MP Jo Cox by a neo-Nazi fanatic.
Detective Superintendent Nik Adams, the North East regional lead for the Government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy, said there was a “real risk” the threat posed to the public by far-right extremists could grow “if left untapped and unchallenged”.
Last month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that National Action, a neo-Nazi and British nationalist youth movement with a strong presence in Yorkshire, would be the country’s first banned far-right group.
Det Supt Adams said: “That reflects the growing concern about the risks that extreme right-wing groups pose.”
He added: “Historically what you would see from the far-right was public disorder, public protest, that would have an impact on community cohesion, people’s sense of wellbeing and belonging.
“That sort of behaviour over time has become more concerning and when you layer on things like the murder of Jo Cox, for which Thomas Mair was convicted a few weeks ago, who was vocal in his extreme right-wing views, whilst we are not looking at intelligence suggesting we have got a growing number of Thomas Mairs, it is a concern that if left untapped and unchallenged, there is a real risk that could grow and we could see further incidents.”
His warning came as details emerged of efforts by Prevent officials to deter a 14-year-old West Yorkshire boy from being drawn into terrorism after he started expressing anti-Muslim views at school.
Det Supt Adams said this was the kind of work done by Prevent on a day-to-day basis, though his case differed from that of Mair, the white supremacist terrorist who murdered Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox in Birstall last summer and was handed a whole life jail term in November.
He said: “When you look at some of the publicity around Thomas Mair, close family, friends, neighbours, were saying he hadn’t displayed any of those behaviours.
“Only they will know if that is completely true, but it is not just young people, everyone can be vulnerable.”
Simon Cole, police lead for the Prevent programme, said earlier in the year that concerns over far-right extremists make up half of all referrals in Yorkshire, and 30 per cent of the caseload in the East Midlands.