Parents of Muslim boy wrongly referred to UK Prevent scheme campaign for data to be erased

Couple are worried that their son's grammar school place is in jeopardy

Legal action is being taken by the parents of a boy who was wrongly referred to the UK's anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent. AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
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The parents of a Muslim child who was reported to the UK's anti-radicalisation Prevent scheme in error say they want to protect other youngsters from wrongly being placed on security lists which can affect their schooling and career prospects.

The couple, a dentist and an engineer from the north of England, have taken legal action against their 11-year-old son's school after a teacher thought he had said "arms" instead of "alms".

The boy was referred, without his parents knowledge, after the teacher asked pupils what they would do if they inherited a lot of money and thought he had said he wanted to "give arms to the oppressed".

His parents are concerned his details will remain on a security list permanently and affect his career and schooling.

"The parents are really distraught and distressed over the impact on their son," their lawyer Dean Garrett, from Liberty Law, told The National.

"He has been selected for a grammar school place and his parents are really concerned that this will now be closed to him because of this misunderstanding by the class teacher.

"They are really hoping this can be resolved and do not want it to happen again to any other youngster. This is not the first incident we know of."

The boy's parents also fear future job prospects will be closed to him unless Prevent remove the data they hold on him.

"Prevent is a separate entity to the police and his parents want an acknowledgement of what data is being held on their son," Mr Garrett added.

"They want a copy of it and will be seeking its removal. They are taking action because they do not want another child going through this."

His parents have also requested a written apology from the school and the payment of damages.

Prevent deals with all forms of terrorism, including Islamist and far-right extremism.

From 2012 to March 2020, almost 3,000 people were taken on by Prevent’s voluntary and confidential Channel programme.

Of those referred to Prevent in 2019-2020, 1,487 (24 per cent) were referred because of concerns related to Islamist radicalisation and 1,387 (22 per cent) were referred over concerns related to far-right extremism.

The government is currently reviewing the scheme to assess its effectiveness.

The scheme relies on referrals from teachers, health workers and members of the public who have extremism concerns about individuals.

Updated: June 30, 2021, 11:34 AM