Role models needed says Kim Leadbeater as right-wing extremism referrals to Prevent nearly double in three years

Right-wing extremism is on the rise as new figures show the number of such radicals flagged up to authorities for concerns over their worldviews has almost doubled in the last three years.

By John Blow
Friday, 20th December 2019, 6:00 am
Kim Leadbeater. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Kim Leadbeater. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

There were 5,738 referrals overall to the Government’s Prevent Programme between April 2018 and March 2019.

Of these, 1,389 referrals were for concerns over right-wing extremism - a six per cent rise from 1,312 in the previous period and almost double the 759 flagged up in 2015/16.

-> Far-right extremism is on the rise in Yorkshire, counter-terror chief warnsIslamist concerns accounted for a larger proportion of referrals but the number dropped 56 per cent from 3,197 to 1,404, according to the Home Office figures.

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Tracy Brabin MP. Picture: Jake Oakley.

A further 2,169 people had a “mixed, unstable or unclear ideology” while 776 were referred over other concerns like international and left-wing radicalisation.

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, and the CEO of a foundation set up in her name, said the statistics were “quite shocking” and said that while it was “easy” to want to punish extremists, they were often people who “feel that they don’t belong” and that prevention work is necessary.

She said: “What we need is good strong role models, particularly male role models.

“Sport, for me, is always a very powerful tool for good.”

Miss Leadbeater, 43, added: “You have to get people to meet people who are not like themselves.”

-> Kim Leadbeater on tackling loneliness, life in the public eye, and why her sister Jo Cox is always with herTracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said: “While all extremism is incredibly concerning, thousands being referred to Prevent annually is an illuminating picture of what is happening in our communities.

“The fact that right-wing extremism is on the rise is sadly not a surprise. While there are never any excuses for extremism, everyone in public life must realise the risk and redouble our efforts to make sure our language is suitable and importantly, report anything that we fear oversteps the mark.”

With an annual budget of around £40 million, Prevent aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

It was launched after public bodies were placed under a statutory duty in 2015 to stop people being drawn into terrorism.

Anyone concerned that someone they know might be at risk can refer them.

-> 'Rural communities are being targeted by radical groups' - senior Counter Terrorism Police officer warnsWhen authorities decide there is a risk that the person referred to Prevent could be drawn into terrorism, they are then assessed as part of a scheme known as Channel and potentially taken on as a case.

Engagement with the scheme is voluntary and it is not a criminal sanction.

Of the cases examined by Channel, 561 were taken on as a case and supported through the scheme - 254 (45 per cent) of which were over right-wing radicalisation concerns. This is a 50 per cent rise on the previous year.

Overall, 1,563 children and teenagers under the age of 15 were referred to Prevent, of which 234 were girls.

The latest figures also show that 4,407 were deemed not suitable for further action and left the process. Most were directed to other services for support.

Some 402 of those taken on as a Channel case left the process with “no further radicalisation concerns”.

And 189 people were referred twice and nine more were flagged up three times.

The largest proportion of individuals were from the North East and London..

Lord Carlile, who was tasked earlier this year with reviewing the anti-radicalisation programme, said “everything is up for discussion” including scrapping the scheme.