Children in Britain being watched for terrorist tendencies

To back up the reasoning for the program Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and the most senior British police officer in charge of terror prevention, refers back to the July 7 subway bombings.

“One of the four bombers of 7 July was, on the face of it, a model student. He had never been in trouble with the police, was the son of a well-established family and was employed and integrated into society.

“But when we went back to his teachers they remarked on the things he used to write. In his exercise books he had written comments praising al-Qa’ida. That was not seen at the time as being substantive. Now we would hope that teachers might intervene, speak to the child’s family or perhaps the local imam who could then speak to the young man.”

Source: The Independent

The program which is being funded by the British Home Office has police officers working with Muslim communities to discover if they can the children that are at risk of radicalization; or who show an interest in extremist material.

Once identified the children are subject to a “programme of intervention tailored to the needs of the individual”. Sir Norman said this could involve discussions with family, outreach workers or the local imam, but he added that “a handful have had intervention directly by the police”.

He stressed that the system was not being used to target the Muslim community. “The whole ethos is to build a relationship, on the basis of trust and confidence, with those communities,” said Sir Norman.

I’m really of a mixed mind on this one but tend to look up the program with a fair amount of suspicion given how the British police are the frontline for the Government’s desire to know pretty well what every citizen is doing – or has done. At the same time programs like these if conducted properly could actually work. I guess time as usual will be the deciding factor.

[hat tip to Cory Doctorow – Boing Boing]