More white people were arrested for terrorism offences than any other ethnic group in 2020 – for the third year in a row.
Official figures reveal that 89 white people were arrested on suspicion of terror offences last year, compared with 63 Asian suspects, 15 Black suspects and 18 of other ethnicities.
“The proportion of white people arrested exceeded the proportion of Asian people arrested for the third consecutive year,” according to a Home Office document.
“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.”
Of those arrested, 81 per cent considered themselves British or British dual nationality – the highest proportion on record. Overall the number of terror arrests fell by a third to 185 – the lowest figure in nine years.
“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,” the Home Office said.
Officials last month lowered the UK’s terror threat level to ‘substantial’, meaning further attacks are deemed ‘likely’ as opposed to ‘highly likely’.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the decision was due to the “significant reduction in the momentum of attacks in Europe” since those seen between September and November.
The last time the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre lowered the UK terror threat level to ‘substantial’ was in November 2019, weeks before an Islamist extremist murdered two people at a rehabilitation event near Westminster Bridge in London.
Three further terrorist attacks followed in 2020 – in HMP Whitemoor prison, Streatham and Reading – all carried out by serving or released prisoners.