Boy, 13, arrested in London on suspicion of sharing Islamist extremist material

Police search teenager's home amid concerns over increase in radicalisation among young people

London's Metropolitan Police said it is still very rare for such a young person to be arrested for a terrorism offence. EPA
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Anti-terrorist police in the UK have arrested a boy of 13 on suspicion of sharing Islamist extremist material.

The teenager was held in west London on Tuesday by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, before being released on bail until mid-June.

He was arrested on suspicion of the dissemination of terrorist material and his home was searched.

The arrest comes against a backdrop of growing concern about the radicalisation of young people.

Head of the CTC Richard Smith said: “While it is still very rare for such a young person to be arrested for a terrorism offence, in recent times we have seen a worrying increase in the number of teenagers being drawn into terrorism.

“This particular investigation remains ongoing, but more broadly, we work closely with a whole range of partners to try and protect and divert young, vulnerable people away from extremism and terrorism.

“The public have an important part to play in this, and we would urge anyone who thinks a friend or relative is becoming radicalised or drawn into a path towards terrorism to ‘Act Early’.

“Please contact us so that we might be able to get that person the help they need.”

Act Early is a reference to a CTC website and advice line offering guidance and support for anyone concerned that someone they know may be at risk of being radicalised.

Police saw the number of terrorism arrests for all age groups except children fall during the pandemic. In the year to March 2021, 13 per cent of suspects arrested for terrorism offences were aged under 18 ― compared to 5 per cent the previous year.

Authorities fear that an increased time spent online while Covid-19 restrictions were in place left more children vulnerable to being radicalised.

Updated: May 18, 2022, 12:45 PM