Six young people were identified as being at risk of radicalisation in six months, by an organisation in Staffordshire, according to county councillors.
The under 18's have been referred to a panel set up to identify and provide support to those thought to be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorist activity, a report to a Staffordshire County Council meeting said.
The report added: “During the period 1st May to November 30 2018 the majority of referrals to Staffordshire Prevent were of individuals between 14-17 years of age,”
Currently the threat to the UK from international terrorism is classed as “severe”, meaning a terrorist attack is considered “highly likely”.
And the country also faces threats from domestic terrorism and violent extremism, “which can emerge from any community and can be inspired by a wide range of causes”, the report on the ongoing work of Staffordshire’s Prevent programme said.
On Monday a Staffordshire County Council committee heard that the county is classed as a “non priority area” nationally, meaning that it does not receive additional funding for work to prevent terrorism.
But the work overseen by Staffordshire’s Prevent Board has been recognised as good practice nationally, Safer Communities Commissioning Officer Rebecca Murphy told the meeting.
She added: “We have done quite a lot of work with schools. One of our key activities is around online safety.
“When a person goes online they may be at risk of child sexual exploitation or being lured into a gang or being radicalised. We work with schools on how to keep children safe online.
“We need to equip young people with critical thinking skills. It’s encouraging them to challenge ‘fake news’ – how do you know what is fake and what is real?
“It won’t fix the problem but young people go online and don’t just accept everything they find. This is going in the right direction.”
But committee chairman Councillor John Francis raised concerns that not all schools had completed a survey last year on how they were delivering the Prevent programme.
The report to the committee said 399 schools out of 411 had completed the 2018 survey – rate of 97%. It added: “Schools were asked whether policies are up to date in relation to Prevent, whether staff have undertaken appropriate training and whether staff are confident in recognising the signs of radicalisation and know how to refer.
“The responses to the survey indicated that schools are very aware of the Prevent Duty and around 85% had actioned all of the requirements. Positively, 93% of schools stated that they engage with parents and families in relation to Prevent.”
Councillor Francis said: “I find it really nauseating that all the schools didn’t respond on stuff like this. It should be 100% of schools on board with this.
“I don’t care what faith they are – Muslim or Christian -they should be on board and giving 100%. If they are not I would hold the board of governors responsible for not doing their jobs.”
Councillor Syed Hussein highlighted the role of parents too.
“We need their support to prevent it as well – without parents it is very difficult,” he said. “There are many things going on the home, from Facebook to WhatsApp.”