Updated at 10.26pm
POLICE IN THE United Kingdom have rejected allegations that a 10-year-old Muslim child was interviewed after making a spelling mistake.
The young boy, who lives in Accrington in Lancashire, wrote in his primary school English class on 7 December that he lived with his family in a ‘terrorist house’ rather than a ‘terraced house’.
His teachers reported the child to police; a move that – perhaps surprisingly – follows current protocol.
A police visit
Under the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act teachers are obliged to inform the authorities to any suspected terrorist behaviour.
The child was then interviewed in his home and his family’s laptop was examined.
Lancashire Police confirmed that a visit had been made by a police constable and members of social services. They did clarify however that no members of counter-terrorism unit Prevent were involved.
The Lancashire Telegraph reports that a joint statement issued by local police and county council read:
In spite of how it has been reported, it is completely untrue to suggest that this situation was brought about by a simple spelling mistake.
It added that no further action is required by any agency.
Although it was soon clear that there was no threat and that no further action would need to be taken, the family of the child involved have been left badly shaken.
Speaking to BBC News, his cousin said that the incident had been a “joke” and that, “you can imagine it happening to a 30-year-old man, but not to a young child”.
She went on to say that the child had been having a difficult time eating and drinking since the incident.
Why was the child reported?
Although it may have seem extreme, the legislation introduced last year means that it is unlikely this is the first time police have been notified of such an incident.
Under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 a range of public service staff are given a more active role in the prevention of terrorism.
While Act’s guidance states that teachers should act to protect “the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society”, its application has been criticised for its heavy-handedness.
Originally published 12.29pm. Additional reporting by Nicky Ryan.