Islamic extremism should be regarded as a potential addiction for vulnerable young people in the same way as alcohol, drugs or gambling, according to Scotland’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator. Allan Burnett wants to introduce rehabilitative measures similar to addiction support to prevent youngsters from becoming radicalised by fundamentalists, instead of sending them to prison. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the Glasgow airport attack, Mr Burnett told The Herald that he wants to develop restorative justice and early intervention initiatives for young people as part of the strategy to stop future attacks. The Assistant Chief Constable of Fife is clear that there will be no leniency for those committing acts of serious violence. However, for young people susceptible to being led astray by extremist propaganda, he believes the emphasis should be on prevention. For that to work, he wants to build the trust of parents and the wider community so that if they come forward with concerns, their children will not be automatically penalised. “One of the things we are trying to do is early intervention, which we would use in other areas of behaviour to put a stop to it,” he said. “Just like any other perversion, the primary people who will stop (radicalisation) are parents. It happens with people concerned about their kids drinking, taking drugs or gambling. It happens right across the board and we shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes parents don’t have the knowledge or the skill to intervene in a positive way.

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