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  1. ITV Report

3-year-old among hundreds of children identified as potential extremists

A total of 1,069 Londoners have been referred to the government's "Channel" counter-extremism programme since the start of 2012. Photo: Reuters.

A child of three is among hundreds of children identified by police as being among those vulnerable extremism, Tower Hamlets Council has confirmed to ITV London.

The child is among 834 under-18s reports to the government's counter-extremism programme - called Channel - between April 2012 and June 2014. Around a tenth of these children was under 12, data from the National Police Chiefs Council revealed.

ITV London's David Wood reports.

The figures released under Freedom of Information requests indicate that referrals are increasing year-on-year.

In 2012/13 a total of 290 youths and children were reported to Channel, with the number rising by almost 50% to 423 the following year.

In the three months from April last year 121 under 18s were referred. If that rate continued throughout the year, it would result in an annual total of 484.

Overall, 2,335 individuals across all age groups have been earmarked for possible intervention by the de-radicalisation scheme in two and a quarter years, the figures show.

The Home Office said that since the Channel programme was rolled out nationally in April 2012 there have been more than 4,000 referrals and confirmed that the number has increased since last year.

The three-year-old is from Tower Hamlets and was referred as part of his wider family grou

London Assembly member Murad Qureshi said the figures showed the extent of the radicalisation in London. He told the Evening Standard:

The figures certainly show the extent of it and this now needs to move into the educational arena.

It’s useful for the Met to be on top of the issue. But we need to see a community approach, with schools and education at the forefront of that.

Simple history lessons about Islamic states which have failed in the past could be useful, as opposed to some of the propaganda from other sources.

– Murad Qureshi

Hannah Stuart, a research fellow at Henry Jackson Society said it was important to remember that the greater rate of referral reflects a greater awareness of the problems.

Channel referrals have continued to rise since the programme was introduced nationally. This is in part because of the growing appeal and clever marketing of jihadist ideas among young people by groups like Islamic State.

But it's also because public bodies, particularly schools, have become increasingly aware of their safeguarding duties in terms of preventing radicalisation.

While the threat from terrorism is a significant concern right now, a clearer indication of the scale of extremism and possible radicalisation is not the numbers of referrals but actually the numbers deemed at risk and referred on for specialist intervention.

– Hannah Stuart, research fellow at Henry Jackson Society.