The brutal murder of Jo Cox last June was a tragic reminder of the danger posed by the far-right, and highlights the importance of a counter-radicalisation strategy that deals with all forms of extremism.
Figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council last week show that far-right-related referrals to the government’s counter-radicalisation programme, Prevent, have increased by 74% in the last year.
In Yorkshire, where Mair’s extremist views developed, reports suggest far-right extremism concerns make up half of all Prevent referrals, significantly higher than the national average. When the by-election triggered by Jo Cox’s death was held, it was contested by a number of far-right groups including the National Front.
Across the UK there has been a disturbing rise in far-right activity in recent months. National Action, a neo-Nazi group whose members have called for a race war and the gassing of Jews has targeted universities throughout 2016, while police figures have recorded a rise in racially or religiously aggravated hate crimes since 2015.
The threat this poses highlights the importance of public sector staff who may come into contact with individuals at risk of radicalisation having an awareness of far-right extremism, and of the reporting pathways to use if they have concerns – something which is increasingly provided by the Prevent strategy.
Rupert Sutton, Research Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society, said: “The brutal murder of Jo Cox was a tragic reminder of the challenge the UK faces from far-right extremists who seek to achieve their aims through violence.
“Ensuring such individuals can be identified before they harm others will be vital in preventing such terrible incidents in future. By providing training and advice, the Prevent strategy can give people an awareness of the issue which will make our communities more resilient to all forms of extremism.”