Thursday 8 December 2016

Seven-year-old Muslim boy reported to police after school mistakes brass cylinder for bullet

Published 07/11/2016 | 07:59

The seven-year-old boy was questioned by police (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The seven-year-old boy was questioned by police (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The mother of a Muslim boy has accused his school of “racial profiling” after teachers mistook a piece of brass he had brought in for a bullet and informed police.

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The seven-year-old was left in tears when two police cars were sent to his home and officers tried to interview him.

Police were contacted by St Edward's Catholic Primary School in Birmingham after the boy claimed a brass cylinder was a “bullet” for a rifle and told teachers his teenage brother, who had been on an army cadet course, had held a weapon.

The boy's mother, who has not been named but is an academic at a West Midlands university, said she was upset at how the matter had escalated.

She also accused the school of over-reacting because her son is Muslim and is angry it failed to tell her it had contacted police, with the first she knew of it coming when officers turned up at her door – a response she described as “intimidating”.

She refused to let officers question her son during the incident last month.

The woman told The Sunday Times: “I don't think the school would have escalated it if we were not Muslim. It was almost as though we needed to prove our innocence rather than they would need to prove that they had a reasonable basis for questioning us or proving our guilt.”

She added: “I don't want to sue the police or the school but I do want my issue highlighted for them and other schools to know that they just can't do that. They can't deal with Muslim children in a different way from anybody else and they can't bypass the parents.”

And she told Tell Mama, an organisation which supports victims of anti-Muslim abuse, it was “ridiculous” that common sense had not been applied.

She said: “The school and the police were heavy-handed and placed undue suspicion on a seven-year-old; they caused him a lot of distress that could have been avoided.

“They left him mistrusting his teachers after they told him it would be a matter to discuss only with parents and they dealt with us as parents in a way they would not deal with non-Muslim parents.”

Tell Mama said the case highlights the concern that in some statutory agencies, “taking a common sense approach to incidents that relate to safeguarding and fulfilling their statutory duty under the Government's Prevent scheme seem to go out of the window”.

Joanne Kennett, head teacher at St Edward's, told The Sunday Times: “As a Catholic school, all our children are treated equally and we pride ourselves on the diversity of our pupil intake and community.

“There have been disclosures made of a similar nature from children who were not from Muslim families and the same course of action has been taken.”

West Midlands Police said officers were called to the school and then the boy's home after it reported “a pupil had brought a bullet into class”.

A spokesman said: “The item was examined and found not to be a bullet and no further action was taken.”

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Dale said: “Officers will always thoroughly investigate any reports of unlawful guns and ammunition that are reported in the community.”

Independent News Service

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