Child radicalisation referrals pass 300 as Prevent duty begins

Family court guidance also issued, president stresses children’s interests remain paramount

More than 300 children and young people were referred to the government’s deradicalisation programme over the summer as a new duty on public bodies was introduced.

Figures published under freedom of information by the National Police Chiefs’ Council show that 796 people were referred to ‘Channel’, the government’s pre-criminal diversionary programme, in June, July and August. Just under 40% of these referrals were for people under the age of 18.

The figures follow the implementation of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on July 1, which places a duty on local authorities and other public bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, as part of the Prevent duty. Local authorities also have a responsibility to have a Channel panel.

Guidance in family courts

The figures were revealed on the same day as James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, issued guidance on how to deal with radicalisation cases in the family courts. Munby stressed the importance that the interests of individual children remain paramount and “cannot be eclipsed by wider considerations of counter terrorism policy or operations”.

He was responding to an increase in cases brought before the courts, including that of  a 16-year-old girl from Tower Hamlets who was taken into local authority care after videos of executions and photos of corpses were found on electronic devices belonging to her and family members. A high court judge praised the “outstanding contribution” of the girl’s social worker in this case.

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