London: An estimated one child or teenager a day was referred to the UK government's anti-radicalisation programme over a two year period as several minors, many of them under 12, were found at risk of becoming involved with violent extremists, official figures released today showed.
Between April 2012 and June 2014, a total of 834 minors under the age of 18 were reported to the Channel programme, which provides support to those identified as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.
Around one in 10 minors or 84 in total were under the age of 12, showed the data from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) obtained by the UK's Press Association news agency under a freedom of information (FoI).
In 2012-13, a total of 290 youths and children were reported to Channel, with the number rising by almost 50 per cent to 423 the following year.
In the three months from April last year, 121 under 18, 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 indicate.
The UK 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.
A regional breakdown shows that the highest number of referrals during the period were made in the north-west of England with 478, followed by the south-east (375) and London (369).
Referrals could be made by a range of organisations such as schools, social services and health bodies.
Channel, which was set up in April 2007, is part of the UK government's 'Prevent' strategy, which is one of four strands of contest or the government's counter-terrorism programme.
The Government guidance says Channel "may be appropriate for anyone who is vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism" and is "about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism".
Under laws passed earlier this year, public bodies including councils, prisons, NHS trusts and schools were placed under a statutory duty to identify and report those vulnerable to radicalisation.