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White people make up largest proportion of terror arrests, figures show

The Guardian logo The Guardian 13/09/2018 Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent
An armed officer on patrol.: The Met says the fall in overall arrests did not reflect a change in the threat level and that number of active investigations, 650, was at its highest level. © PA The Met says the fall in overall arrests did not reflect a change in the threat level and that number of active investigations, 650, was at its highest level.

White people make up the largest proportion of arrested terrorism suspects for the first time in 13 years, official British figures show.

There were 351 arrests for terrorism-related activity in the year to 30 June, a fall of 22% compared with the 449 arrests in the previous year, Home Office statistics show.

The proportion of suspects recorded as white by the arresting officer increased by four percentage points to 38% in the period, while those deemed to be from an Asian background fell by seven percentage points to 37%. The proportion recorded as black fell by two points to 9%.

It is the first time, since the year ending June 2005, the month before the 7/7 bombings, that more of those arrested were recorded as white rather than Asian.

Islamist terrorism remains the greatest threat to national security, according to senior police officials, but the rise of far-right extremism and terrorism is a significant concern to authorities.

Police and security services have said that 13 Islamist-related and four extreme rightwing plots have been thwarted since March 2017.

The Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, Dean Haydon, one of the most senior counter-terrorism officers in the country, said the fall in overall arrests did not reflect a change in the threat level and that the number of active investigations was at its highest level, with about 650 inquiries open.

“Demands upon counter-terrorism policing have increased by about a third since the start of 2017,” Haydon said.

A total of 100 people were brought to trial in England and Wales the year ending 30 June 2018, up 39% on the previous year.

Of those, 90 were successfully convicted, marking the highest number of persons tried and the highest number of successful convictions since data collection began in 2009.

There were 218 persons in custody in Britain for terrorism-related offences, up 7% on the previous year.

Of those in custody, 82% were categorised as holding Islamist extremist views, a further 13% as holding far-right ideologies and 6% other ideologies.

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