Children are increasingly at risk of radicalization in the UK, according to an investigation by The Telegraph.
The Channel Project, which acts to prevent vulnerable people being radicalized, had some 758 under 16s reported last year for worrying behavior. Of those, 113 were under 12.
Those reported included a three-year old, whose entire family was reported for worrying behavior.
The Channel Project does not arrest those reported to it, but implements its de-radicalization strategies.
Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm, one of the police officers in charge of the Channel Project., told The Telegraph:
“Channel supports people who are vulnerable to being radicalised and drawn into terrorism. It works in a similar way to other safeguarding, partnership activity where agencies come together to support vulnerable individuals; for example work to address drugs, guns and gangs issues through early intervention.
“Types of support can include life-skills, mentoring, and access to education, careers advice, and consideration of housing need amongst others. It has increasingly become recognised by partner agencies as having an important role to play in safeguarding communities from harm. Both vulnerable adults and young people are safeguarded through Channel.
“In exceptional circumstances some younger children are provided support as part of a wider, whole family approach.
“This does not mean that a young child is expressing radical views. However, this enables a family to benefit from the expertise and wrap around support that Channel provides.”
There remain doubts about the efficacy of the counter-extremism program, particularly since it was revealed that one of the boys placed on the program when a 13-year old later went on at 15 to attempt to mastermind an Islamic State bomb plot in Australia to attack the ANZAC Day commemoration ceremony.
The number of teenagers and children referred to the Channel Project will double in the next two years, if current trends continue, due to the rise of the Islamic State.
David Cameron launched his new approach to tackling Islamist extremism this month, with the government’s new strategy on countering violent extremism to be rolled out in September.
His new strategy may prove a turning point in the struggle against Islamism in the UK.