A Muslim boy was investigated by police after he mistakenly wrote that he lived in a "terrorist" house as opposed to a "terraced house". The 10-year-old's family said the child is now frightened of "using his imagination" following the mishap that took place in an English class at a Lancashire school.
The boy's teachers contacted the police, as per their legal obligation to report any suspected extremist behaviour to authorities since July 2015, as part of the drive to combat radicalisation under the 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act. The pupil was interviewed by police on 7 December and a family laptop was inspected.
The unnamed boy's family say they were left in a state of shock by the events and initially thought the investigation into the spelling error was a "joke". An unidentified relative of the child, who has not been named to protect his identity, said: "You can imagine it happening to a 30-year-old man, but not to a young child.
"If the teacher had any concerns it should have been about his spelling. They shouldn't be putting a child through this. He's now scared of writing, using his imagination."
Critics have expressed concern that fear is prompting teachers to overreact. Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he is aware of similar cases throughout the UK.
"There are huge concerns that individuals going about their daily life are being seen through the lens of security and are being seen as potential terrorists rather than students," Versi said. "This is a natural consequence of the extension of the 'Prevent Duty' to schools," he added.
In a statement, Lancashire Police said: "This was reported to the police but was dealt with by a joint visit by a PC from the division and social services, not by anyone from Prevent. There were not thought to be any areas for concern and no further action was required by any agency."
The boy's family have said they want an apology from both the school and the police, according to a BBC report.