The number of Scots referred to the UK Government’s counter-terrorism programme due to far right extremism has risen over the last year, according to the latest Police Scotland data.
The figures, released today, show that 31 of the 87 Scotland residents referred to the anti-terror Prevent programme in the year ending 31 March 2023 held right wing extremist beliefs – more than triple the amount attracted to Islamic extremism.
This is a slight increase on the 28 referred the previous year. Intervention was deemed necessary for the vast majority of those with far right views. Nearly all referrals – for all ideologies – were for males (92 per cent), while more than a third were aged 15-20.
Some 37 people were deemed to have mixed, unstable or unclear ideology – the most common category – and 10 were reported for concerns related to Islamist extremism. The remaining nine referrals were not deemed an issue for Prevent.
The Home Office programme aims to “stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism” and relies on being notified of individuals deemed vulnerable to being drawn into violent extremism.
Scottish Government urged probe into far right group
In January, we revealed that the Scottish Government suggested that Police Scotland and Pursue – a strand of Prevent which aims “to stop terrorist attacks” – coordinate a meeting regarding the far right group Patriotic Alternative (PA) Scotland and online radicalisation.
We had previously revealed that a leading figure in PA – who later led a breakaway faction to form a splinter group, called Homeland – used a private chat group to recruit neo-Nazis who posed with weapons, shared a bomb-making manual, quoted a mass murderer, and said members should kill “for the greater good”.
Homeland’s younger members include a man we recently revealed was involved in the Scottish Nationalist Society (SNS) – a now defunct youth group branded neo-Nazi. Homeland said the man had joined the now-disbanded SNS as a “disenfranchised” teenager but had since “grown up”.
Prevent referrals come from local authorities, schools, colleges, universities, health bodies, prisons and other sources, although the police – followed by the education sector – typically make the most referrals.
Once individuals are referred, Police Scotland assesses whether they are suitable for an intervention scheme. Some 84 per cent of those with far right beliefs were deemed suitable for intervention, more than double that of those with mixed, unstable or unclear ideologies.
Police Scotland assistant chief constable David Duncan said Prevent “promotes early intervention” and “will help safeguard those individuals who have been identified as susceptible to radicalisation and being drawn into terrorism or violent extremism.”
He added: “We remain committed to building strong partnerships with communities and other stakeholders to address the underlying causes fuelling radicalisation.”