Home-schooling and social segregation in the UK is fostering the rise of extremist Islam, the national police counterterrorism co-ordinator has warned.
'Segregated, isolated communities, unregulated education and home schooling are a breeding ground for extremists and future terrorists,' warned Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, according to The Times.
He said that a 'more extreme second generation' of jihadists, in part aided by the rise of social media, was a developing home-grown threat to national security. These communities may consist of those who feel misunderstood or 'disenfranchised' by the present government and see 'no future in the West'.
Basu was speaking to the police superintendents' conference in Stratford-upon-Avon. He defended the Home Office's controversial Prevent initiative, designed to tackle extremism – but which critics say could erode religious liberties and make moderate Christians a target.
Basu warned of the influence of internet connectivity on jihadist recruitment of British youth. He said: 'It's no surprise to me that social media has meant we have got a younger cohort. We have all seen how slick it [online Islamist propaganda] is.'
He added that the UK's counter-terrorism operations had been multiplied after a 'summer like no other' which saw high-profile terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena, London Bridge and a mosque in London's Finsbury Park. Arrests have gone up by 75 per cent since those attacks, and the police and MI5 are currently handling about 600 active investigations.