Twice as many terror suspects are white as are Asian, figures show

Figures released by the Home Office show that twice as many white people have been arrested for terror offences in Britain compared to Asians, raising concerns of the increasing threat of far-right extremism.

The targeting of young people particularly by far-right elements online is a worry for many experts, with the figures showing that children now make up one in eight of those arrested for terror offences.  

Many commentators see Islamophobia as a driving force behind the rise of the far-right in the UK.

Home office figures

In the year ending 30 September 2021, there were 188 arrests for terrorist-related activity in Britain.  

Arrests for those of white appearance increased by 5% to 101 arrests, while the number of Asians arrested fell by 40% to 49. Arrests of people of black ethnic appearance fell by 65% to 7, while arrests of ‘Other’ ethnic appearance increased by 72% to 31.  

“There were falls in the number of arrests across all ethnic groups, except the white ethnic group and the other ethnic group, when compared with the previous year,” said the Home Office report.

It is the fourth consecutive year that more white people have been arrested than Asians.

“Arrests of persons of white ethnic appearance accounted for 54% of arrests, up 10 percentage points on the previous year,” it added.

Threat of the far right

The report said that due to an overall fall in crime during the coronavirus pandemic, terror arrests dropped for all age groups apart from children, who are more susceptible to online extremism.

Twenty-five children were arrested for terrorism offences, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period.

Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the latest stats are “at least consistent with increased targeting of young suspected right-wing terrorists operating online.”

“The main principal offence charged is disseminating terrorist publications and my educated guess that this is taking place online,” Hall said in a tweet thread.

In a report from 2019, the charity Hope Not Hate said anti-Muslim prejudice has replaced immigration as the “key driver” for far-right groups.  

The report referred to lone-wolf terrorists and right-wing extremists that get radicalised over the internet. It added that the far right has become more extreme and younger.

Last week, a white nationalist was jailed for seven and a half years for planning to attack a mosque in Scotland. Sam Imrie, whose hate of Muslims stemmed from looking at extremist right-wing content online, was convicted of eight charges that included two breaches of the terrorism act.  

In Christchurch in 2019, a far-right gunman massacred 51 people at two mosques in 2019 while broadcasting his rampage live on Facebook.


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