Ilford schoolboy, 8, 'traumatised' after being interviewed by counter-terrorism officers
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:58 08 January 2019
An eight-year-old Ilford schoolboy was left "traumatised" after being quizzed over alleged radicalisation fears by counter-terrorism officers and a social worker, his parents say.
The Counter Terrorism Police Standards Unit and Redbridge Council have both launched investigations into the incident – which took place on the last day of the 2018 summer term – after the boy’s parents logged a formal complaint.
According to a case study by community-led pressure group Prevent Watch the family believes they were targeted for being Muslim and say their son was traumatised after being separated from his friends and interviewed alone.
“I didn’t know what they were doing here,” the boy told the watchdog in an anonymised video interview.
“Everybody was outside and I was inside, talking.”
In the same video, the boy’s father claimed his son was asked to recite verses from the Qu’ran and then asked their meaning as well as his views about other religions and which mosque he attends.
A national newspaper reported that the radicalisation fears were sparked by the father’s “links to members of an unspecified Islamist group”.
However, no safeguarding issues were identified following the meeting and no further action was taken.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that Counter Terrorism officers undertook a visit to an east London school earlier this year, following concern raised about a child under 10, who they interviewed in the company of a social worker.
He added: “Counter Terrorism Policing works with partners to safeguard the most vulnerable in our society.
“A public complaint has been received in relation to this matter and is now being investigated by the Counter Terrorism Professional Standards Unit.
“No safeguarding issues were identified as a result of the meeting with the boy and no further police action was taken in relation to this matter.
“It would be inappropriate to make any further comment until this investigation has been concluded.”
A Redbridge Council spokeswoman confirmed a formal complaint into the matter has been received and is being fully investigated and that the council could not comment further.
David Landau, of Redbridge Equalities and Community Council, told the Recorder that the method in which the safeguarding meeting was conducted – if accounts are accurate – “is very likely to foster suspicion, fear and community tension rather than encourage community cohesion and trust”.
“Suddenly taking someone to be questioned by the authorities for no apparent reason is traumatic for an adult to experience, let alone an eight-year-old child in school,” he said.
“Asking a child about the meaning of the verses of the Qu’ran which are negative about other communities is problematic.
“I am Jewish and can find such verses in the Old Testament.”
He added: “Clearly, if the authorities have good intelligence to suggest that young people are being encouraged to commit violent acts they need to do something about it, but I am sure there are better methods than this.”