Record number of children in UK held over terror crimeson December 9, 2021 at 9:51 pm

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It comes as police say seven late-stage UK terror plots have been foiled since the pandemic began.

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Image source, Getty Images

Twenty-five children were detained over terror crimes in the year to September – a record high, figures show.

This was up from 17 the year before, Home Office figures showed.

Police are concerned about the numbers and are urging parents to seek support if they fear their child could be on a path towards extremism.

It comes as Counter Terror Policing said seven late-stage terror plots had been foiled in the UK since the pandemic began.

The latest figures take the total number of thwarted late-stage terrorism attacks in the UK over the last four years to 32. It is an increase of one since September.

The number of arrests of children was the highest proportion recorded in a 12-month period and accounted for 13% of all arrests. It was an increase of eight from the previous year, the Home Office said.

But its report said this was mostly due to a fall in the number of arrests of people in older age groups. There was an overall drop in arrests, largely because of a fall in crime when there were lockdown restrictions in place.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national co-ordinator for CTP, said he was concerned children were “becoming an increasing proportion of our arrests”.

He said parents and other family members should seek support if they fear a child could be following a “dangerous path towards extremism”.

“Ideally we would identify when a young person is being led down the path towards terrorism activity and use the Prevent programme to try and put them on a different path,” he said.

Mr Haydon said the UK faced a “sustained and high-tempo threat” which police, security and intelligence services “are doing everything in their power to combat”.

He called for people to be vigilant and alert and “help play their part in protecting the UK” as we move towards Christmas.

Earlier this year, MI5 head Ken McCallum said agents were investigating teenagers as young as 13. He said the threat of extreme right-wing terrorism had grown and changed over the last five to 10 years, with “a high prevalence of teenagers”.

He said: “It is already the case that in quite a range of our investigations, we do sadly see teenagers, minors, under the age of 18, some under the age of 16, presenting sharp risk.”

The UK terror threat level was raised to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely, after an explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital last month.

A taxi driver survived the blast but his passenger was killed when the homemade bomb exploded on Remembrance Sunday, just before 11:00 GMT.

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