New Statistics Show Increase in Prevent Referrals

Dec 19, 2023 | Threat Analysis, Threat Landscape

Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
Threat Analyst

Read Time: 3 minutes 

On 07 December 2023, the UK Home Office released statistics on the number of individuals referred to, and supported through, the Prevent programme from April 2022 to March 2023.[1] The Prevent programme is intended to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by tackling the ideological causes of terrorism, intervening early to support those susceptible to radicalisation, and enabling people to disengage and rehabilitate.[2] If a referred individual is considered at risk of radicalisation or vulnerable, their case is assessed by a multi-agency “Channel panel” and a tailored package of support for the individual is designed.[3]

The full report can be found here: Individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent Programme, April 2022 to March 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

 

Key Findings

    • In the year ending 31 March 2023, there were 6,817 referrals to Prevent; an increase of 6.4% compared to the previous year. This increase was predominantly driven by referrals from the Education, Community and Police sectors.
      • Where gender was specified, most referrals were for males (90%).
        • Those aged 15 to 20 accounted for the largest proportion of referrals and those aged 14 and under accounted for the second largest proportion.
          • The category “vulnerability present but no ideology or CT risk” accounted for the largest proportion of referrals. For the third year running, the number of referrals for Extreme Right-Wing concerns (19%) was greater than referrals for Islamist concerns (11%).
            • The number of referrals adopted as a “Channel case” decreased compared with the previous year, despite the overall number of referrals to Prevent increasing.

              Event Assessment

              • Although there have been no cases of a successful terrorist attack conducted by a child or teenager in the UK to date, children and teenagers remain overly represented in both Prevent and Channel cases.[4] Children and teenagers have previously demonstrated the intent to conduct terrorist attacks in the UK, including:
                • 2023 – Essex – A teenager was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting a terrorist attack against British soldiers and police officers. The individual had previously wanted to travel to Syria to join Islamic State and conducted hostile reconnaissance at an army barracks, a magistrates court and railway station. His mother alerted the Prevent programme to concerns over his behaviour.[5]
                • 2022 – Isle of Wight – A teenager was accused of plotting a terror attack after allegedly researching the Isle of Wight Festival as a potential target. It was also claimed that the individual had also developed an interest in Islamic State and researched weapons, including firearms, vehicles and a stab proof vest.[6]
              • There is a realistic possibility that the fact that the majority of Prevent referrals stemming from the category “vulnerability present but no ideology or CT risk” contributed to the decrease in the proportion of referrals adopted as “Channel cases”. There is a realistic possibility that certain individuals in the UK could move away from traditional terrorism threat ideologies (E.g., Islamist, Extreme Right-Wing etc.) and in some cases adhere to ideologies that overlap, converge, or even in some cases contradict as a result of their own perceived frustrations and injustices.
              • Although the number of referrals for Extreme Right-Wing concerns was greater than referrals for Islamist concerns, it is almost certain that Islamist terrorism remains the predominant terrorism threat to the UK at this time. It is almost certain that Islamist terrorists maintain the intent to commit indiscriminate mass casualty attacks in the UK.
              • It is highly likely that Extreme Right-Wing terrorism will increase as a vector of UK terrorism threat in the next 12 months amidst the ongoing refugee crisis and Israel-Hamas conflict. It is highly likely that any Extreme Right-Wing terrorist attack would target sites and individuals associated with the UK government and/or minority groups with protected characteristics. E.g., LGBTQIA+, migrant communities, religious minorities, etc.
              • It is highly likely that any terrorist attack conducted at this time in the UK would be conducted by a lone individual or small cell using a low-sophistication methodology. E.g., Bladed or Blunt Force Weapon, Vehicle as a Weapon, Fire as a Weapon.

              Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 19 December 2023

              PHIA Scale

              The “Probability Yardstick” (below) is a standardised instrument used to provide professional intelligence assessments. Judgements made using the yardstick are relative and reflect the analyst’s confidence in their findings and assessments.

                • Almost Certain: An event is assessed to have a greater than 90% chance of occurring.
                • Highly Likely: An event is assessed to have a 76% to 90% chance of occurring.
                • Likely: An event is assessed to have a 55% to 75% chance of occurring.
                • Realistic Possibility: An event is assessed to have a 40% to 54% chance of occurring.
                • Unlikely: An event is assessed to have a 25% to 39% chance of occurring.
                • Highly Unlikely: An event is assessed to have an 10% to 24% chance of occurring.
                • Remote Chance: An event is assessed to have a less than 10% chance of occurring.

                Time Spans

                  • Short Term: 0 – 6 Months.
                  • In the next 12 months.
                  • Medium Term: 12 months – 5 Years.
                  • Long Term: 5+ Years.

              Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
              Threat Analyst

              Read Time: 3 minutes

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