In addition to the uncertainty generated by the coronavirus, the UK police has warned that young people are “potentially more vulnerable” to the negative influences of online information.
THE UK Anti-Terror Police have warned of the possibility that people, especially young people, could become radicalised due to the increased time they spend online after being home for so long during quarantine which has been enforced to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Northeast Brigade of the British Anti-Terror Police released a statement in which they expressed that “Police officers are concerned that isolation measures may put vulnerable people at a greater risk of radicalisation as the pandemic makes them spend more time on the internet and their access to support services is restricted.”
According to the police, young people are part of the population who have lost a “significant part” of their support network as a result of the closure of schools and colleges, and in some way, they may also find “additional difficulties in adjusting to current restrictions and staying away from friends.”
Therefore, in addition to the uncertainty that the pandemic has already generated, young people are “potentially more vulnerable” to negative influences, as they seek information online about their concerns or use the internet to distract themselves or maintain contact with others.
“The closure of schools, colleges and universities, in addition to the loss of youth centres and sports facilities, means that many young people have lost valuable support from their friends, teachers and mentors at a time when they need it the most,” said the Regional Coordinator for Prevention of the Northeast Brigade of the Antiterrorist Police, Detective Superintendent Matthew Davison.
Davison, who has also noted the “uncertainty” and reduced interactions with the outside world caused as a result of the pandemic, has warned that extremist groups of different ideologies are also active on the internet, in the same place as the rest of people.
“They seek to capitalise on the uncertainty caused by the pandemic to promote disinformation, fear and hatred,” he said. “This situation presents them with a unique opportunity to exploit this anxiety in an attempt to further their goals and attract new followers,” he concluded.