Concern about the growing threat from the extreme Right-wing has been gaining ground in Britain. The commentariat has lined up to emphasise how it will define this century.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote recently that the West’s battle against the far-Right is one that we cannot ignore. Khan argues that the threat is an evolving global danger and one which the world needs to wake up to. Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and head of counter-terrorism policing, Matt Jukes, warned that those involved in far-Right extremism were getting younger.
In the final stages of serious attacks, more than a quarter have been linked to neo-fascist and racist groups. Of the 27 terrorist plots that have been thwarted over the last three years, eight came from the far-Right.
While these figures may seem shocking, it is important to note that the threat is still second to Islamist extremism — something we would do well to remember on the anniversary of the July 7 London bombings.
Take for example, how many individuals have been convicted of terrorism connected offences in the United Kingdom.
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) publishes data on terrorist and extremist prisoners on a quarterly basis. The Home Office then classifies these prisoners by ideology in relation to proscribed groups that are believed to be involved in terrorism. The categories of classification are: Islamist extremists, Extreme Right-wing and Other.
From the period between 31 March, 2013 to 31 March, 2021, there have been significantly more people in custody for Islamist extremist connected offences than any other form of extremism. The lowest number of people in custody for Islamist extremism was 79 in 2014 with an increase of over 100% (164) in 2017. The highest peak came a year later in 2018, with 186 individuals recorded as being in custody for the same connected offence.
In the same nine-year-period, there was a 1000% increase of extreme Right-wing connected offences. This may sound alarming, but the reality is different: the number of individuals in custody for extreme Right-wing connected offences rose from 4 to 44. There are therefore significantly fewer extreme Right-wing prisoners in custody than their Islamist counterparts despite the apparent increase in convictions.
In addition, there were 44 (20%) individuals sentenced for extreme Right-wing connected offences, whereas Islamist terrorist-connected sentences in the same year amounted to more than three times that number (157), making up just under three quarters (73%) of the total.
Islamist extremist connected offences continue to dominate statistics year on year. Over nine years, the lowest number for all terrorism-related offences was 87 (2013) whereas the highest was 238 (2020). In each year, except 2021, Islamist extremist connected offences amounted to over three quarters of all offences consistently.
For right-wing terrorism-connected offences to be anywhere near comparable to Islamist terrorism-connected offences, there would at least be sentencing of the former that matches the latter. But as each year passes on, that just isn’t happening.
The attention given to the growing threat from extreme Right-wing individuals appears to be attracting more attention than it deserves. It is simply a fact that more people are consistently sentenced to prison for Islamist extremism than any other form of terrorism connected offences. As concerning as the rise in Right-wing extremism may be, it pales in comparison to the Islamic threat — we must not turn away from it.