According to the Home Office’s quarterly release of statistics, there were a total of 185 arrests for terrorism-related activity in the year ending 31 December 2020, a third fewer than the previous year, and the lowest annual total since 2011. The document also reveals that three terrorism plots were foiled by Counter Terrorism Policing during the pandemic.
There was a decrease in the number of arrests across all ethnic groups compared to the year before. The statistics show that the proportion of white people arrested on suspicion of terror offences surpassed any other ethnic group for the third year.
The official figures show that 89 white people were arrested, accounting for 48 percent of all terror-related arrests. This is an increase of seven percentage points from the previous year.
63 Asian people were arrested, 15 black people, and 18 of other ethnicities.
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The Home Office document said: “The proportion of white people arrested exceeded the proportion of Asian people arrested for the third consecutive year.
“Arrests of persons of white ethnic appearance accounted for 48 per cent of arrests, up seven percentage points on the previous year. Those of Asian ethnic appearance accounted for 34 per cent of terrorist-related arrests, down five percentage points.”
In addition, of those arrested last year, 81 percent considered themselves to be of British or British dual nationality, the highest percentage since data collection began after the attacks on 11 September 2001.
The official document says that the overall decrease in arrests is mainly due to an overall reduction in crime since the beginning of the Covid pandemic: “The reductions were most evident in arrests under non-terrorism legislation and may reflect the general reduction in crime during this period when there were public health restrictions in place.”
DAC Haydon said: “These statistics tell me two things. Firstly, that despite facing unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, Counter Terrorism Policing continued to keep the public safe by making 185 arrests across more than 800 live investigations – stopping three possible terror attacks in the process.
“And secondly, that while the rest of us have been focussed on protecting ourselves and our families from this terrible disease, terrorists have not stopped planning attacks or radicalising vulnerable people online.
“As we follow the Government’s roadmap out of the tightest restrictions there will be greater opportunity for terrorists to operate, and we want the public to join the police, security staff and retail workers in a collective community effort to minimise the chance of attack.”