Children being brainwashed by parents who support terrorist groups could be taken away from their families, the government has warned. Justice Secretary David Gauke said society will not condone any indoctrination.
He said on Wednesday that parents who groom their children “in pursuit of a radical agenda” could not be left in charge of bringing up a child. He said society has a right to intervene and remove children to safer spaces.
“A child brought up in an environment that leads them towards a belief in a death cult is not an environment that, as a society, we can condone. Society has got the right to say that there are some environments that are not safe and take action accordingly.
“We have to be conscious of the manipulators. A lot of our challenges in the prison system and more widely in society can be from the manipulators of young people,” said Gauke.
The announcement comes after Metropolitan Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley suggested that courts should treat extremists and pedophiles in the same way.
“Whether it’s the grooming for sexual purposes or manipulating young people for pursuit of a radical agenda, that’s one of the great challenges we face as a society,” the justice secretary said.
Gauke identified the return of British fighters from Syria as another major concern. It is unknown how many of the 850 people reported to have traveled to the war-torn country are expected to return to the UK, but “a lot of work” was being done in preparation for this eventuality.
“There is a likelihood that we are going to see people returning from the Middle East in the months ahead and many of them are going to become our problem within the prison system,” he told the Evening Standard. “We need to make sure that there’s the proper approach to them. This is an issue that is going to be very significant for the criminal justice system as a whole and the prison system and is one of the big challenges that we have to face.”
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