Teenager terror suspect arrests are highest for almost two decades

Charles Hymas
Manchester Arena terror attack - London News Pictures Ltd

The number of teenagers arrested for terror-related offences are at the highest for almost two decades, home office figures reveal.

In the year to September, 22 children under 18 were arrested, the most since records began in 2001, after the 9/11 terror attacks.

They were only age-group to see a rise in the number of arrests compared with last year and will raise new concerns about extremism amongst the young fuelled by social media.

"The number of young people getting involved with terrorism surged with Isis who were particularly effective at using social media to radicalise them,” said Richard Walton, a former head of counter terrorism with the Met Police.

"We are also seeing an increase in right wing extremism in part fuelled by Islamist terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.”

Among the youngest were two 15 year olds arrested on suspicion of far-right terror offence in Ramsgate in September.

The figures also showed the number of people in custody for terrorism-related offences, 224, was its highest since records began, with 80% were Islamist, 13% far right extremists and the rest from other ideologies.

Although overall arrests fell by nearly a third to 317, it was the fourth consecutive year over 300 which Dean Haydon, the Met’s senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said represented “a genuine step-change in terrorist activity.”