Police, teachers and community leaders make 120 referrals over people feared to be at risk of radicalisation to the Government’s Prevent programme every week, new figures revealed.
Home Office statistics published on Thursday showed there were 6,287 referrals to Prevent in the year to March – a leap of 10% compared with the previous year.
Of those, 197 individuals were referred twice, nine were referred three times and one was referred four times.
Of the 6,287 referrals, 1,487 were for concerns over Islamist extremism – a 6% rise from 1,404 in the year to March 2019 and the first increase since the year ending March 2016.
The number of Prevent referrals for concerns over right-wing extremism dropped slightly in the latest year, to 1,387 from 1,388 in the 12 months to March 2019.
A further 3,203 people were flagged over a “mixed, unstable or unclear ideology”, while 210 were referred over other concerns like international and left-wing radicalisation.
Police made the most referrals, with 1,950, accounting for 31% of the total, followed by the education sector with 1,928. Nearly nine out of 10 referrals were for boys and men.
Girls and women accounted for just 12%.
Worryingly, 54% of all referrals were for individuals aged 20 years or under.
Some 697 people were referred to the Government’s other strategy, the Channel programme – the highest recorded.
A total of 302 cases – 43% – were over right-wing radicalisation, compared with 210 – 30% – for Islamist radicalisation.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “These appalling statistics show the level of threat our security services are bravely dealing with on a daily basis.
“We have long warned that vile far-right extremism is quickly rising and these figures show how big the threat has become.
“Our police forces have had one hand tied behind their backs, by losing thousands of officers under the Tories on top of cuts to preventative services.
“Urgent action is needed before more lives are ruined.”
With a £40million annual budget , the Prevent scheme 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 tip off police or their local council.
When authorities decide there is a risk that the person referred to Prevent could be drawn into terrorism, they are then assessed as part of the Channel scheme and potentially taken on as a case.
Engagement with Channel is voluntary and it is not a criminal sanction.
Speaking virtually to the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Security Minister James Brokenshire said Prevent was “an essential tool for safeguarding individuals that are vulnerable to radicalisation, ensuring they get support as early as possible”.
He added: “Undoubtedly, the threat landscape has become more diverse and challenging.”
He also admitted there was a “growing threat from right wing terrorism as well as risks from the far left and single issue extremists”.