Longer jail terms for Islamists than far-right extremists

The Henry Jackson Society has revealed that Islamist offenders convicted of online extremist crimes received prison sentences three times longer than those of their far-right counterparts.

Despite the government’s ambition to treat both strains of extremism in the same way, the research revealed that Islamists received on average 73.4 months compared with 24.5 months for far-right offenders.

The think tank claims that a primary reason for the disparity was a failure by the Home Office to proscribe far-right groups, making them harder to prosecute than their Islamist equivalents.

The study examined 107 cases in which an individual was convicted of an extremist-related offence committed on social media in the last four years. Almost a third of the offenders used Facebook to disseminate their views, with 14.7 per cent using Twitter, followed by the encrypted messaging services WhatsApp (14 per cent) and Telegram (nine per cent). Nearly two-thirds were aged 30 or younger, while a fifth had a history of criminal behaviour.

Almost 90 per cent of cases entailed attempts to glorify or justify violence, while two-thirds incited violence directly. The majority of hate material identified, almost three-quarters, was Islamist, with much of it linked to ISIS

Nikita Malik, the report author, said: “The lack of far-right groups subject to proscription in the UK, when compared to Islamist groups, has left the authorities reliant on hate-crime legislation rather than specific terrorist offences which carry heftier sentences. The government needs to keep this situation under review in a fast-moving online world, where offending causes real and significant harm.”


View the latest
digital issue