Official figures show that 89 white people were arrested on suspicion of terror offences in 2020, 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,” a Home Office document said.
“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.”
Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, said: “While the rest of us have been focussed on protecting ourselves and our families from this terrible disease, terrorists have not stopped planning attacks or radicalising vulnerable people online.
“As we follow the government’s roadmap out of the tightest restrictions there will be greater opportunity for terrorists to operate, and we want the public to join the police, security staff and retail workers in a collective community effort to minimise the chance of attack.”
The figures also showed that one in five people behind bars for terror offences in Britain on December 31 were right-wing extremists – the highest proportion since records began. But the vast majority (75 per cent) were still classed as having “Islamist extremist” views.
Police operations against far-right terrorists have increased since 2017 following the banning of National Action. The government went on to proscribe several aliases and other neo-Nazi groups, most recently banning Feuerkrieg Division in July.
The head of UK counter-terror policing has described the far right as the fastest-growing terror threat in the UK, although the majority of attacks and thwarted plots are by “jihadis.”
Last month, officials lowered the UK’s terror threat level to substantial, meaning further attacks are deemed likely rather than “highly” likely.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The police and intelligence agencies have continued to work around the clock to keep us safe throughout this pandemic.
“We are ensuring they have all the tools they need, which is why we are introducing tougher sentences for the most dangerous terrorists and bolstering powers to keep people safe including strengthening Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures.”