A teenage boy has been sentenced for terrorism offences after he downloaded instructional manuals on extreme violence and how to make explosives.

The 17-year-old boy, from Gloucestershire, appeared at Bristol Youth Court today (Thursday 29 July) where he was given a 12-month referral order for offences he committed under the Terrorism Act.

It means the boy will have to take part in a programme of rehabilitation and will be subject to a number of strict conditions, monitored by the Probation Service and youth offending services. If he breaches his conditions, he will return to court and could be given a prison sentence.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in person and was sentenced by Chief Magistrate – Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring – having previously pleaded guilty to 11 counts under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 for offences of collecting material of use to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

The court previously heard how the boy was arrested by officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary and Counter Terrorism Policing South West in December 2019. The boy was 15 at the time of all the offences bar one when he had turned 16.

As part of the subsequent investigation, several digital media devices were seized by police and on review, officers identified a number of instructional manuals including detailed guides on how to make numerous explosives, improvised explosive devices, poisons and different methods of killing using hand held weapons.

In addition to the 11 documents forming the charges, there were numerous extreme right wing ideological documents recovered. These included information on a predicted race war and the collapse of society, Satanic Neo Nazi practices and some containing very graphic portrayals of sadistic violence. There were also a significant amount of extreme right wing images and videos recovered as well as evidence of participation in online chat platforms of a similar nature.

The devices contained numerous images of the boy performing Nazi salutes, making White Power signs, posing with imitation firearms and memes idolising mass killers such as Anders Breivik.

As part of the investigation, the address where he lived in Gloucestershire was searched and a number of items were found which included Nazi and Extreme right wing symbols scratched into his desk.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing South West, Detective Superintendent Craig McWhinnie said: “Whilst there was no risk to the county, individuals such as this who promote dangerous extremist views and content have no place in our society. We will continue to seek them out and prosecute them.

“The entrenched views and hatred displayed by this young person combined with their consumption of violent and disturbing literature remain deeply concerning.

“This investigation is another stark reminder of the hateful and damaging material found online that for all of us, is only a few clicks away. This material creates a very real risk to the young and vulnerable in our communities, in our schools and indeed, in our own homes. This is especially true over the course of the pandemic where young people spend more time online, often alone and unsupervised.

“We would encourage those who care for young persons to have honest and frank conversations about online activity, to look out for the signs that indicate a potential shift in beliefs or attitude and to be intrusive on occasion to ensure they are safe online.

“The Act Early website has a wealth of information for anyone with concerns to help them understand what radicalisation looks like and provides advice on what to do in the first instance. The site – actearly.uk – also includes details of organisations outside of policing which can offer support.”

Every year thousands of reports from the public help police tackle the terrorist threat. If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and ACT by reporting to police in confidence at gov.uk/ACT.

Reporting won’t ruin lives, but it could save them. Action Counters Terrorism. Remember, in an emergency, always dial 999.