Kid’s spelling mistake leads to police investigation
A 10-year-old Muslim boy, from Lancashire, was subjected to a police inquiry earlier this week after he wrote that he lived in a ‘terrorist house’ in one of his school books.
The unnamed pupil had meant to write ‘terraced house’ according to his family, yet upon inspecting the work, his teacher informed the authorities.
The following day, Lancashire Police visited the boy’s house and spoke to him.
In a statement, police and the county council said it was ‘untrue to suggest that this situation was brought about by a simple spelling mistake’.
“The school and the police have acted responsibly and proportionately in looking into a number of potential concerns using a low-key, local approach,” it said.
“No concerns were identified and no further action was required by any agency.”
Since the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act was passed last year, teachers are legally obliged to report any suspect extremist behaviour to police.
The boy’s family said they were left shocked by the incident on the 7th December and want the police and the school to apologise.
Much reaction to the news was seen on micro-blogging site, Twitter, with celebrities and members of the public amongst the many critics.
Jeremy Vine said: “If [this story is] true, we have lost it,” whilst Jeremy Bowen added: “This story is sad and mad.”
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, told the BBC that he was aware of dozens of similar cases to that of the Lancashire pupil.
“There are huge concerns that individuals going about their daily life are being seen through the lens of security and are being seen as potential terrorists rather than students,” he said.
“This is a natural consequence of the extension of the ‘Prevent Duty’ to schools.”
The Home Office does not publish data for the number of referrals made to ‘Prevent’ – the de-radicalisation programme.
However, in the year to the end of October, 1,355 people under the age of 18 were referred to it, compared with 466 in the previous 12 months.
Police said the issue was reported to them but dealt with by a joint visit by a PC and social services.
“There were not thought to be any areas for concern and no further action was required by any agency,” a statement concluded.