Primary school boy referred to Prevent programme after teacher mishears 'alms' as 'arms'

28 June 2021, 10:10

The boy was apparently misheard by his teacher
The boy was apparently misheard by his teacher. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

An 11-year-old primary school pupil was referred to the Prevent counter-extremism programme after his teacher misheard him in a class discussion.

The teacher had asked what the class would do if they were given a large amount of money, to which the boy said he would "give alms to the oppressed".

But this was apparently misheard as "give arms", as in weapons, and the child - who comes from a Muslim family - was referred to the programme designed to stop radicalisation.

Attiq Malik, the solicitor representing the pupil's parents, told the Telegraph: "You've got a child who has made a very good and positive comment about giving aid, alms, to the people who need it across the world.

"But because of (the boy's) race or religion, the teacher has interpreted it as being something completely opposite, and reported him to Prevent."

The Guardian said the boy's engineer father and mother, a dentist, have been left distraught and worried the referral will stay on their son's file.

They fear it will remain even though Warwickshire and West Mercia Police closed the case quickly.

"This has had a massive impact on us as a family. My wife hasn't slept properly since this happened," the father said.

"We want answers and we want justice. All pupils should be treated equally and with integrity."

The newspaper also reported that it has seen the referral, which said the boy "lives with mum and dad – attends a local mosque". The paper said the boy is thought of as highly intelligent at the school.

Prevent is a multi-agency programme designed to stop people becoming terrorists.

Police say many referrals do not lead to further action from officers, but in some cases mental health or education services will step in.

"All referrals to police are handled with sensitivity and in confidence. If a person is assessed as being a terrorism risk, they may be referred to Home Office's Channel Programme and maybe given help from a mentor," the Counter Terrorism Policing website adds.