A four-year-old Muslim boy was referred to the Government’s anti-extremism programme Prevent after he spoke about a video game at an after-school club.
The child, from the West Midlands, said his father had ‘guns and bombs in his shed’ during a conversation with an after-school club worker about the video game Fortnite, which has characters collecting guns and bombs.
Prevent is the Government’s ‘counter-terrorism strategy’ that tries to ‘prevent radicalisation and stop would-be terrorists from committing mass murder’.
Public bodies, including schools and nurseries, are obligated to report anyone they suspect could be at risk of radicalisation.
This little boy was referred in September 2019 before police arrived at the family’s home at 10.30pm to question his parents, the Guardian reported.
The child’s mother said she was worried ‘armed police’ and ‘social services’ were going to get involved.
She said: ‘He’s just a little boy with an imagination. The teachers should know in this setting that [children] have imagination.
‘They know exactly what kids are like, and what young boys are like. I do think that if it was a white boy, they wouldn’t have actually gone to that extreme of referring him to the Prevent scheme.’
Between 2016 and 2019, 624 children under six were referred to Prevent (Picture: Getty Images)
Transcripts showed the kid mentioned guns and bombs just before he told the club worker that his cousin had been playing Fortnite at his dad’s house the night before.
The boy is among 624 children under six who were referred to Prevent between 2016 and 2019, according to figures obtained by the Guardian under freedom of information laws.
The same figures show that 1,405 kids between the ages of six and nine were referred during the same three-year period.
Any referrals that are thought to hold merit and pose a real risk are escalated to the Channel programme for counter-terrorism police to deal with.
Between 2017 and 2019, only 42 of the 624 under-6s that were referred to Prevent were considered a risk worth stepping up to Channel.
The majority of referrals are about far-right extremism, according to the latest Home Office figures.