Coronavirus has created a ‘perfect storm’ for online radicalisation, Neil Basu says. Teenage neo-Nazis are being arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences in record numbers as part of a “new and worrying trend”, the head of UK counterterror police has said. Assistant commissioner Neil Basu said children as young as 14 had been detained in the past year, and almost all of those investigated by police had been radicalised online. “We are seeing more young people being drawn towards terrorist activity,” he added. “That is a relatively new and worrying trend in the UK, because just a few years ago we were not seeing anyone that young amongst our case work. “What concerns me most is this – there has been a sharp increase in extremist material online in the last few years, and Covid-19 has meant that vulnerable people are spending a lot more time isolated and online, and with fewer of the protective factors that schooling, employment, friends and family can provide. (…) Official figures show that between January 2019 and June, 17 children under the age of 18 were arrested on suspicion of terror offences. The vast majority were thought to hold extreme right-wing beliefs, and police are urging families to seek help over any worrying behaviour using a new website and advice line. Senior officers are concerned that the coronavirus pandemic may mean that radicalisation is not spotted by teachers, social workers and mental health services because of ongoing restrictions. Earlier this month, a 17-year-old boy was jailed for preparing acts of neo-Nazi terrorism. Paul Dunleavy had researched how to convert a blank-firing gun into a live weapon, and provided “advice and encouragement” to fellow extremists online. He communicated with fellow neo-Nazis and joined the Feuerkrieg Division group, which was later banned as a terrorist organisation. In an online test to join, he wrote that Jewish people “must be eradicated”, called fascism “the pursuit of restoring the natural order”, and said he wanted to “go out there and provoke” a race war. Another teenager, Harry Vaughan, was arrested at the age of 17 last year for encouraging neo-Nazi terror attacks online.

via independent: Counterterror police chief warns of ‘new and worrying trend’ of teenage neo-Nazis