Hampstead primary school pupil referred to anti-terror agency over Islamic extremism fears

Fleet Primary School. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Fleet Primary School. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A Hampstead primary school alerted a counter-terrorism agency to fears that a child was at risk of being drawn into Islamic extremism.

The chair of governors at Fleet Primary School revealed at a public meeting that at least one pupil has been referred to the Camden branch of the government’s Channel project, set up in the wake of the 7/7 bombings to prevent the radicalisation of vulnerable people nationally.

The Ham&High understands it was the behaviour of parents rather than the child which alerted the school and prompted the referral. Figures for referrals in Camden are not publicly available, but we understand that this case is not an isolated incident.

Fleet’s chair of governors Kim Issroff said she would not comment on individual cases after the children, schools and families scrutiny committee meeting last Thursday at the town hall.

But she added: “The concern is that it is an increasing problem in our community.

‘‘Unfortunately, there are lots of parents who had a bad experience at school and we are not always able to engage with them. Through community leaders is the way to do it.”

Hampstead School governor Cllr Richard Olszewski revealed at the meeting that his school, in Cricklewood, also stepped in when a few children were deemed potentially at risk of radicalisation. The concerns were resolved after working with parents.

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Details of the case at Fleet Primary in Fleet Road were not released by authorities to protect the identity of the child involved.

Referrals are made when a child or parents start displaying early warning signs of radicalisation or extremism.

Signs can include a sudden, increased religious fervency, or references to Islamic or far-right organisations in everyday speech.

Once alerted, most Camden schools will first work with the child and parents to discuss their concerns and offer their support.

If the school is still worried, it will then make a referral to Camden’s Channel Panel, which includes representatives from the council, the probation service, the mental health trust, and the Clinical Commissioning Group.

Any person referred to the panel must give consent. They will then be offered one-to-one mentoring support from experts in challenging extremist ideologies.

The school will remain involved, as when a child is referred to social care services.

Since 2011, Camden has been classed by the Home Office as a “priority area” to tackle extremism through its Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.

Cllr Abdul Hai, cabinet member for customers, communities and culture, said: “Prevent is part of our wider local safeguarding and community resilience work and aims to safeguard all children, young people, and adults from extremism and the risk of radicalisation.’’

He said that he could not disclose the numbers of local panel referrals because it could have an adverse impact on community relations and lead to increased tensions.

On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his five-year strategy to counter extremism, particularly among young and vulnerable people.