London’s top counter-terrorism officer has warned that the Metropolitan Police is becoming “increasingly concerned” by the number of young people being radicalised by extremist ideologies.
It comes as Home Office figures reveal that 33 under-18s were arrested for terror offences in the year leading up to June 2022 – the largest number ever recorded – with the majority relating to far-right ideology.
Commander Richard Smith, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, has called on the public to be “vigilant”, urging parents and carers to “get in touch and act early, in order to prevent their loved ones from going down a dangerous path towards radicalisation”.
He said: “We’re becoming increasingly concerned about the number of young people who are being drawn into extremist and terrorist activity. The work we do though Prevent, in close partnership with others, including the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), is vital in helping to steer those who are vulnerable away from the dangers of extremists and terrorism.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that he would be investing a further £725,000 in grassroots community groups in a bid to counter extremism and tackle the rise in hate crimes in the capital.
The funding forms part of the mayor’s record £2 million Shared Endeavour Fund, which has provided grants to groups such as Exit Hate UK, which uses lived experiences of former right wing extremists to train Londoners to spot the early warning signs of radicalisation.
Khan said: “We know that uncertainty and hardship can create fertile breeding grounds for hatred and division as extremists take the opportunity to prey on impressionable young Londoners.
“My continued investment in grassroots initiatives has already ensured that thousands of people in our city are actively engaged with projects and programmes working to strengthen our communities and encouraging everyone to reject extremist ideologies.”