UK Police Deny Misspelling Led To Investigation, Say It Was Other Schoolwork Instead

from the still-a-problem dept

We had just relayed a story via the BBC about an elementary school kid in the UK earning a visit to his home from the authorities after writing in an English assignment that he lived in a "terrorist house", when he reportedly was trying to say he lived in a "terraced house." The crux of this story was that the UK's Anti-Terrorism law, which requires that school teachers act as surveillance agents for the state in an attempt to weed out future-radicalized will-be-terrorists is a policy built for unintended chaos, given that teachers are neither trained nor properly equipped to fulfill this role. The resulting visit to the boy's home by the authorities from a misspelled word was billed as an example of this overreach by government.

But, as some in the comments pointed out, Lancashire police have pushed back on the BBC's story, saying that it wasn't the misspelled words that triggered the visit and ultimately resulted in the authorities determining there was no need for an investigation, but was instead other schoolwork the boy had done that triggered the visit and ultimately resulted in the authorities determining there was no need for an investigation.

In a statement, police and the county council said it was "untrue to suggest that this situation was brought about by a simple spelling mistake. The school and the police have acted responsibly and proportionately in looking into a number of potential concerns using a low-key, local approach," it said. "No concerns were identified and no further action was required by any agency."
For some reason, there are those that think this vindicates both law enforcement and the UK's law because police say the spelling error had nothing to do with any of this. I can't quite figure out the logic of those people, because this is still a story about a teacher using schoolwork to identify a Muslim boy possibly being dangerous that triggered a visit to the boy's home from the authorities. While the BBC has pulled its original post as a result of the pushback, the fundamentals of the story haven't really changed at all. We still have a scared child and an annoyed family stemming from law enforcement action built on the back of a teacher picking through the child's schoolwork. That isn't a sustainable model for combating terrorism, but it is a sustainable model for alienating an entire subsection of a nation's population.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK's largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, said he was aware of dozens of cases similar to that of the schoolboy.

"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," he said. "This is a natural consequence of the extension of the 'Prevent Duty' to schools."
Regardless of the police pushback, which was extremely light on details, that hasn't changed.

Filed Under: children, homework, police, spelling, terrorist, uk


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2016 @ 3:54pm

    Yes, because the police never lies.

    "Terrorists ate my homework".

    I bet that was the schoolwork that moved them to investigate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 22 Jan 2016 @ 4:12pm

    It wasn't the spelling mistake. It was gremlins. That makes it all better right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2016 @ 5:00pm

    Other school work

    "The boy put his name, Muhammad, on all of his assignments and that prompted the investigation" one official was quoted as saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jigsy, 22 Jan 2016 @ 6:37pm

    "We knew he was a terrorist because his education seems to be far more advanced than anything the UK curriculum teaches."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2016 @ 7:14pm

    That isn't a sustainable model for combating terrorism, but it is a sustainable model for alienating an entire subsection of a nation's population.

    As we all know, sustainable forestry only occurs when we plant at least as many trees as we cut down. Likewise, counter-terrorism is only sustainable if we create as many terrorists as we destroy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2016 @ 10:55pm

    "we didnt make a mistake... since we knew he was muslim we already collected his schoolwork and already had him under surveillance. It wasn't the spelling error at all."

    surveillance from the crib to the grave

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shadow Firebird, 23 Jan 2016 @ 12:27am

    Lame excuses

    'But there was a bunch of other stuff as well, honest!'

    Unless they are willing to give details, this sounds really, really lame. Possibly even then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Jan 2016 @ 12:54am

    "I live in a terraced house."

    I wonder if the police wouldn't still have been called if he had correctly written "terraced". He's a Muslim kid, and the word "terraced" sounds an awful lot like "terrorist". It's not hard to imagine a fearful-of-prison teacher saying, "Maybe we just need to be sure?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2016 @ 9:35am

      Re: "I live in a terraced house."

      If he had written "terraced" the teacher could have just corrected his spelling of "terrorist" and then called the police anyways.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Jan 2016 @ 4:29pm

        Re: Re: "I live in a terraced house."

        You don't suppose...surely it isn't possible...that he asked the teacher how to spell "terraced" in the first place...and the teacher told him "T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PrivatFrazer, 23 Jan 2016 @ 1:03am

    Well I'm frightened by

    Those dessert folk who make bombes. If GCHQ don't move fast we could all end up with cream on our faces.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2016 @ 9:37am

    What other schoolwork?

    ...silence...

    Yeah, that's what I thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 23 Jan 2016 @ 1:08pm

    Oh, yeah!

    The school and the police have acted responsibly and proportionately in looking into a number of potential concerns using a low-key, local approach," it said.
    Oh, yeah.. I'm sure the cops showing up at their door, barging in, searching their house, and questioning everyone at length because of the "schoolwork" of a kid under 11 felt super-responsible and soooo "proportional" to the family in question.

    You have to wonder if the "solution" isn't more likely to "radicalise" said child way more effectively than whatever it is they thought he'd been "exposed" to.... I know I'd grow up pretty pissed-off if I got pulled in and scared the shit out of for schoolwork...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    k-h, 23 Jan 2016 @ 3:11pm

    It wasn't just a spelling mistake

    it was a Muslim making a spelling mistake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2016 @ 5:10am

      Re: It wasn't just a spelling mistake

      it was a Muslim making a spelling mistake.

      Oh, well, in that case then, carry on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 23 Jan 2016 @ 9:35pm

    Not a suprrrize

    Juts today the UK Home Orifice got caught owt whith a putblicition for migrants. A testisis. An English lanuguage testis.

    Yeah the thing is they can't even spell "language" Really. I shit you not.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/22/home-office-misspells-language-english-tests-anno uncement

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 24 Jan 2016 @ 10:49am

    those damned dirty tourists are gonna destroy 'murica!

    /sarcasm because the UK police have no common sense or a sense of humo(u)r

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anomynuos Crowad, 25 Jan 2016 @ 6:37am

    "is a policy built for unintended chaos"

    You can't build something for unintended consequences. Let me fix that for you:

    "is a policy built to foment chaos and fear"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2016 @ 9:20am

    Funny I thought the story was about the police suspecting he was in an old die hard IRA family before I got to the part about the family being Muslim

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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