LONDON – There is a significant prevalence of domestic abuse in the lives of those referred to a British scheme for people at risk of being radicalised, according to research commissioned by British counter-terrorism police published on Thursday.
The study, which looked at 3,045 individuals who had been classified as vulnerable to radicalisation (V2R), found just over a third had a link to a domestic abuse incident, either as an offender, victim, witness or a combination of all three.
The incidents ranged from a child witnessing abuse at home to people convicted for the attempted murder of their partner.
“This initial research has resulted in some statistically significant data which cannot, and should not, be ignored,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Vicky Washington, National Co-ordinator for Prevent, the government scheme that aims to counter radicalisation.
The research, known as Project Starlight, involved about a half of all V2R referrals made in England and Wales in 2019.
It found just over 15% of those referred to Prevent in the 16-64 age bracket were domestic abuse victims – nearly three times higher than the estimated national figure.
While there was a similar prevalence of links among men and women, men were most often recorded as being an offender while women were usually victims.
In cases where a domestic abuse link was found, an Islamist ideology was recorded in 28% of referrals, while far-right ideologies accounted for 18%, the research found.
Washington said the study was about understanding the bigger picture around terrorism, and not about stigmatising anyone or claiming one factor necessarily linked to another.
“Project Starlight has indicated a clear overrepresentation of domestic abuse experiences in the lives of those who are referred to us for safeguarding and support,” she said.
“It is absolutely vital that we use this information to shape what we do, and strengthen our response across all of policing, not just in counter terrorism.”