A new safeguarding website has been launched to report any ‘extremist material’, that is online, to help protect those who live in the Thames Valley from acts of terrorism.

ACT Early, aims to stop people who live in the area being drawn into groups that could cause potentially harmful acts towards members of the public.

Revealed by Thames Valley Police, the website will also provide advice, guidance and support for anyone who is concerned that someone they know may be at risk from being radicalised by terrorists or extremist content online.

This comes after 17 children were arrested in relation to terrorism offences from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, with the youngest child being 14-years-old.

READ MORE: Third rape case shelved by detectives – one year after man arrested

During that same period, TVP also confirmed that more than 1,500 children under the age of 15 were helped by the prevention programme to choose a different path, away from hatred and violence.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said: “Last year, 12 children under the age of 18 were arrested in relation to terrorism offences, some as young as 14-years-old.

“That is a relatively new and worrying trend in the UK, because just a few years ago we were not seeing anyone that young amongst our casework.

“What concerns me most is this – there has been a sharp increase in extremist material online in the last few years, and Covid-19 has meant that vulnerable people are spending a lot more time isolated and online and with fewer of the protective factors that schooling, employment, friends and family can provide.

“In my opinion that is a perfect storm, one which we cannot predict and that we might be feeling the effects of for many years to come.

“But I remain hopeful because there is something we can do right now to try and stop this.

“It requires parents, friends and family to help us by acting early, by talking to their children about what they view online, and sharing their concerns and seeking support if they fear someone they know is in danger of being radicalised.

“Asking for help is a difficult and emotional step, but we must see it for what it is – action which won’t ruin their lives but may well save them.”

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes QPM, added: “This new website is designed to help and support those who have spotted changes in the behaviour of someone close to them.

“The Act Early website is aimed at parents, family members and friends.

READ MORE: Bucks raids: People have been 'released on bail' after drugs, cash and vehicles are seized

“Research shows that those who are closest to a person are far more likely to see subtle changes in character and hints of extremist behaviour, which may be the first indication a loved one is being radicalised.

“With the current pandemic, there has been a rise in the amount of time spent online and sadly there has also been an increase in hateful extremism.

“This is creating a risk for young and vulnerable people who may be targeted by those wanting to groom and feed their terrorist ideologies.

“There may not be anything wrong with the person you are concerned about, but if there is, the Act Early website will give you the right information and direct you to the right organisations to help if there is.”

For more information, visit www.act.campaign.gov.uk.