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Terror 'grooming' watch on nurseries as police fear children as young as FOUR are being radicalised

Terror 'grooming' watch on nurseries as police fear children as young as FOUR are being radicalised

Author: Rebecca Camber
Publication: Daily Mail
Date: December 12, 2009
URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235020/Terror-grooming-watch-nurseries-police-fear-children-young-FOUR-radicalised.html#ixzz0ZQ6eEHWg

Children as young as four are being monitored by terror police who fear they could be brainwashed by Islamic extremists.

Concerns that they could be radicalised has prompted officers to visit nurseries and primary schools, a leaked police memo has revealed.

West Midlands counter-terrorism police e-mailed community groups suggesting children could be targets for terrorist recruiters.

An officer wrote: 'I do hope that you will tell me about persons, of whatever age, you think may have been radicalised or be vulnerable to radicalisation... Evidence suggests that radicalisation can take place from the age of four.'

Arun Kundnani, of the Institute of Race Relations, later contacted the officer, who said it was 'standard' and ' necessary' to visit nurseries.

He told a newspaper: 'The officer said it wasn't just him or his unit that was doing it.

'He said the indicators were children might draw pictures of bombs and say things like "all Christians are bad" or that they believe in an Islamic state.'

The revelation comes as Home Office figures show a seven-year-old is the youngest child to feature in a scheme to tackle grooming by extremists.

The child was one of 228 people referred to the Channel Project, part of Prevent, the Government's flagship strategy to stop young people becoming terrorists.

More than 90 per cent of those identified are between 15 and 24 and most are Muslim.

The programme, funded from the £3.5billion per year security budget, has been dogged by controversy over its aims and claims by some Muslims they are being spied on.

Yesterday Sir Norman Bettison, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on Prevent, said the e-mail was a 'clumsy' attempt to explain the Government's strategy.

The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire added: 'There is no example of police engaging with nursery-age kids specifically on this issue. That is the age for learning about "stranger danger" and "The Tufty Club".'

Anil Patani, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, confirmed his officers had visited a nursery school attached to a primary school to speak to staff.

'No children were spoken to during the visit and this certainly does not constitute a policy of monitoring,' he said.

The e-mail was sent to community contacts in response to concerns some had raised over a newspaper article about Prevent, he added.

But critics say there is a risk of alienating people if counter-terrorism officers visit schools and nurseries.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat spokesman, said: 'This is an absurd waste of police time and risks putting off the very communities that we rely upon to provide intelligence about terror suspects and to come forward as witnesses in trials.'

There have been fears about radicalisation in and around Birmingham since a terrorist was caught on tape indoctrinating his five-year-old son.

Parviz Khan, who was jailed last year for plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier, threatened the boy with a beating if he did not say he loved Osama bin Laden.

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