Far-right referrals to Prevent highlight growing problem

An article in the Times on 20th November revealed a worrying rise in the number of neo-Nazi referrals to Prevent, the Government’s counter-radicalisation programme, which are overtaking Islamist-related cases in parts of the UK.

While Islamist extremism is still the most common referral reason nationwide, with 2,810 cases making up 70% of those flagged, figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) show the number of far-right Prevent referrals has increased by 74% in the last year.

Parts of Wales are claimed to be seeing “well over” 50% of referrals relate to far-right extremism, while reports suggest far-right extremism makes up half of all cases reported in Yorkshire.

The Security Minister, Ben Wallace, has highlighted this increase in far-right extremism, and on Remembrance Sunday, Merseyside Policy reported the appearance of stickers proclaiming “Nazi controlled zones” in Liverpool.

Here at Student Rights, we have been monitoring the activity of the far-right on university campuses since 2009, and have highlighted the increase in activity in recent years.

In October 2016, students at Royal Holloway University held a counter-demonstration to show their opposition to the presence of a Racial Volunteer Force (RVF) protest outside their campus.

Meanwhile, both Durham and Goldsmiths saw swastikas and other racist graffiti painted on university buildings – something which had previously been seen at the University of Birmingham.

The neo-Nazi group, National Action, has also targeted universities in 2016, appearing on-campus at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham in 2016.

Over the summer, the group also vandalised signs at the University of West Scotland with “White Power” stickers, and Student Rights has previously logged evidence of the group at Coventry University, the University of Warwick, University College London (UCL) and London Metropolitan University.

Fascist groups should have no place on campuses and universities must be vigilant to threat they pose – taking into account the potential radicalisation risk to their students as well as the potential disorder of on-campus appearances.

The figures released this weekend underline this, and show the importance of ensuring any policy designed to prevent students from being drawn into terrorism also considers the threat posed by the far-right.

If you are concerned about far-right activity on your campus, please get in touch with Student Rights.

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