The Metropolitan Police arrested a 13-year-old boy on Tuesday after he allegedly shared extreme Islamist material online.
The boy was arrested in west London on suspicion of dissemination of terrorist material.
It came after the Met obtained a PACE (Evidence Act 1984) warrant to search his address as part of a counter-terrorism investigation.
The boy was charged under section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006 before being bailed to a date in mid-June, the Met said.
The Met also said officers will “work closely with partners from safeguarding agencies as the investigation continues.”
Underage defendants in England and Wales cannot be identified outside the court. Reporting on information that can identify them is also banned, but the restrictions can be challenged after court proceedings have been completed.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “While it is still very rare for such a young person to be arrested for a terrorism offence, in recent times we have seen a worrying increase in the number of teenagers being drawn into terrorism.
“This particular investigation remains ongoing, but more broadly, we work closely with a whole range of partners to try and protect and divert young, vulnerable people away from extremism and terrorism,” he said.
Smith encouraged the public to “ACT Early” and contact the police if they think a friend or relative is “becoming radicalised or drawn into a path towards terrorism” so officers “might be able to get that person the help they need.”
In January, a 14-year-old boy from Darlington, County Durham, became one of the youngest individuals in the UK convicted of terror offences after he pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing information useful to a terrorist.
He was arrested in July 2021—when he was also 13 years old—as part of an investigation into extreme right-wing terrorism.
In November last year, Security and Borders Minister Damian Hinds said there had been an increase of “self-directed” terror plots carried out by self-radicalised individuals.
Hinds suggested that the shift could have been exacerbated by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdowns, when “there have been more people spending more time in front of computer screens.”
Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.