In Brief

Counter-terrorism referrals double after attacks

Police point to Prevent scheme success but say public still need to do more

The number of people reported by members of the public as a potential terrorism threat has doubled since the attacks in London and Manchester earlier this year.

Simon Cole, the National Police Chief Council's lead spokesman on de-radicalisation efforts, said police had received around 200 referrals to the government's counter-terrorism Prevent scheme since March, when Britain suffered the first of four deadly assaults.

This was more than twice the number received by Prevent representatives in the six months prior to the attacks.

Speaking to reporters, Cole said that "even though these referrals from the public are increasing", the number was still relatively low and "we still need more people to have the confidence to tell our safeguarding experts if they are worried about someone's behaviour".

Long viewed as "the most controversial strand of the government's attempts to stop Britons from becoming involved in violent extremism", says Reuters, Prevent was created after the 2005 7/7 London bombings. "Many Muslims believe it has been used as a tool to spy on their communities rather than simply sway potential militants from becoming radicalised."

But supporters such as the Dean Haydon, head of London's Counter Terrorism Command, say the scheme has achieved "fantastic results", and has helped authorities stop more than 150 people from travelling to Syria to join Islamic extremist groups in the past year.

About 60 per cent of recent referrals were related to Islamic extremists, Cole said, and 15 per cent were connected to right-wing extremism, a figure which has doubled since the murder of the MP Jo Cox last summer.

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