Home Office figures have revealed a sharp increase in the number of under 18 year olds investigated for links to far right extremist groups, including children as young as 10 years old.
Sky News revealed that 682 children were referred to the government’s counter terrorism programme, Channel, in 2017-18, increasing five fold from 2014-15. The total for 2017-18, included 24 children under the age of 10.
Sharp rise in cases linked to far right
The number of cases linked to the far right (groups which believe in nationalistic viewpoints, including fascism and some oppressive ideologies) was equal with those linked to Islamic radicalisation. This is the first time this has happened since the data was first recorded.
Out of 5,738 referrals, 62 per cent of them were related to young people, up to the age of 20.
A total of 1,404 (24 per cent) of referrals were due to concerns related to Islamic radicalisation, and 1,389 (24 per cent) were related to right wing radicalisation.
In an interview with Sky News, former neo-Nazi, Nigel Bromage, said that video games and extremist content on social media is being used by groups to recruit children. This includes child specific content online through the use of memes, videos and video games.
He commented, "I think the far-right in Britain today is actually at its most dangerous it's ever been.
"The youngest person we've supported has been nine years of age. That, to me, really shocked me."
There has been growing evident that children radicalised online are being encouraged to start taking direct action in secret.
Earlier this month, 17 year old Paul Dunleavy was jailed for five and half years after being found guilty of preparing a terrorist offense. The teenager said his hero was Adolf Hitler and he was a member of the extreme far right group, FKD.
In October, 18 year old Harry Vaughan received a two year suspended sentence after posting a bomb making manual to a neo-Nazi forum.
Initial attraction is patriotism
The investigation by Sky News also spoke with John, whose real name was not given, who said the main attraction to the far right for him was how patriotic they were. After getting more involved with far right groups he was drawn in by the “anti-authority” stance.
He was introduced to far right content online by a school friend. He said, “A lot of the people in the far-right said they were standing up for the soldiers in the UK, which is something that I've always felt very passionate about."
He added, “For various reasons, stemming from schools and colleges, to sort-of stricter rules that parents are putting on children, I do think there is this big anti-authoritarian mentality in young people at the moment.
“It offers a sense of belonging really. A lot of young people want to feel like they're a part of something, and the far-right will offer that to you."
Anyone with concerns about radicalisation can visit the Let's Talk About It website.