West Midlands primary school pupils on terror list
Primary school pupils in the West Midlands have been identified as potential terrorists after they were caught drawing bombs in class and writing alarming messages.
Seven under-12s have been placed on a list of those at risk of radicalisation or extremism.
They join 94 teenagers who have also been singled out since 2012. As well as worrying behaviour in school, youngsters are placed on the list if they or their families are known to associate with suspected fanatics.
The revelations were today described as 'truly shocking' by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson. He said: "It is alarming that children at such a young age are at threat of radicalisation and that intervention is having to be taken to prevent attacks.
"Not only is it truly shocking, but these figures show the enormous scale of the problem our police and security services face."
Those reporting the youngsters include teachers, youth workers, social workers, police officers and even their own parents.
The figures – released under Freedom of Information law – reveal that 242 people, including 101 under-18s, from the West Midlands, Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire areas were referred to the government's anti-terrorism programme. The Express & Star obtained details from the National Police Chiefs Council.
The Express & Star asked councils in the Black Country for numbers referred to the anti-terrorism programme, which is called Channel. Dudley Council rejected the request, saying disclosure would lead to a 'perceived' lack of confidentiality and lead to a 'disengagement' with the programme.
Wolverhampton council said it did not hold the information, Walsall Council said it was trying to confirm whether it had the figures, but even if it did they would not be released. Sandwell Council asked for more time to answer the request.
The National Police Chiefs Council said: "The greatest threat the UK currently faces is from terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam, and who target Muslims. Therefore prevention activity predominately takes place in and with Muslim communities."
Meanwhile, the Express & Star reveals today that Britain's biggest travel firms are selling holidays to Tunisia despite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising against travel. Thomson and First Choice owner TUI has said the terrorist massacre had cost the firm up to £32 million.
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