Home Office terror figures flag rise in number of far-right extremist inmates

Police found evidence a firebombing attack on a Dover immigration processing centre was motivated by extreme right-wing ideology. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The number of far-right extremist inmates has risen to its highest level ever in the last year, new statistics reveal.

The figures also show under-20s make up a third of arrested terror suspects, in another significant trend.

Police detained 190 people on suspicion of terror offences in the year to September 2022.

Of these, 33% (63) were aged 20 and under, with 32 being younger than 18-years-old.

In the previous 12-month period, 42 people (or 22%) out of 190 were aged 20 and under.

The Home Office statistics, published on Thursday, also reveal how the ideologies held by terrorist prisoners has changed over time.

The proportion of terrorist inmates holding Islamist-extremist views has fallen to its lowest level on record. Meanwhile those categorised as having an extreme right-wing ideology has risen to its highest.

As of the end of September, there were 239 people in custody for terrorism-related offences in Britain.

Of those, 65% (155) were classed as Islamist-extremist, compared to 94% in the year to September 2015 when the proportion was at its highest level.

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In the 12 months to September 2022, there were 28% (66) terrorist prisoners recorded as holding extreme right-wing views, in contrast to 4% during the same period in 2014/15.

The latest figures show 8% (18) of terrorist prisoners were not classified as having a specific ideology.

The boss of MI5 director general Ken McCallum last month said terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology still accounts for about three-quarters of the security agency’s terrorist caseload.

Last year he warned extreme right-wing terrorism is “sadly here to stay” as he told how agents are investigating teenagers as young as 13.

A separate report, published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), examined the role the internet played in the radicalisation of 437 convicted extremist offenders in England and Wales and found the internet was “increasingly prominent” in radicalisation.

Analysis of specialist reports from 2010 to the end of last year also suggested the biggest increase in online radicalisation over time was among female offenders and people aged over 25, researchers said.

A third of the sample of criminals considered in the research had mental health problems or personality disorders.

Conditions most commonly reported included Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and depression, with these “most common” among those mainly radicalised online, the findings indicated.