The proportion of right wing-related referrals into Prevent has reached its highest ever level according to new Home Office statistics. The overall number of vulnerable people referred to and supported through the Prevent programme has fallen to its lowest level in three years, with 5,738 referrals in the year to March 2019: a decrease of around 22% from the previous 12 months.
This is an expected decline as referral levels return to those seen pre-2017, when terrorist incidents and a heightened awareness of terrorism and radicalisation prompted a spike in people contacting Prevent for support.
The overall reduction in referrals is explained largely by the drop in Islamist-related concerns, which for the first time reached parity with right wing referrals on around 24%. The rise in right wing referrals continued the growth seen in the last few years, up from 18% in 2017-2018.
The largest proportion of referrals (38%) is those concerned with individuals exhibiting a mixed, unstable or unclear ideology – when vulnerable people exhibit a combination of elements from multiple ideologies or even shift between different ideologies depending on what content they’re exposed to.
Protecting vulnerable individuals
Chief Superintendent Nik Adams, Counter-Terrorism Policing’s national Prevent co-ordinator, commented: “The figures clearly demonstrate that Prevent is about protecting vulnerable people from any and all toxic ideologies that seek to lure them towards terrorism. The sheer volume of cases we see with mixed or unclear ideology demonstrates that complex behavioural needs and mental ill-health can create a significant vulnerability to radicalisation.”
Adams continued: “In 2018 we introduced a new assessment tool which has helped us deal with referrals more efficiently, directing individuals to the services that are most suitable to their needs.”
The statistics also show that the overall number of individuals discussed at a Channel panel (1,320) and adopted as a Channel case (561) reached the highest level ever recorded. Channel panels are meetings of professionals from different agencies who assess the needs of individuals vulnerable to radicalisation, deliver the right support and monitor progress.
Adams went on to state: “To see an increase in the number of Channel cases while overall referrals are declining is a good indicator that our improved assessment processes are working and that professionals, friends and families who make referrals better understand the risks of radicalisation and how Prevent can help. Early intervention is absolutely key. Experience has shown us that it’s so much harder to pull somebody back once extremist views have become entrenched.”