Nursery staff and childminders will be expected to report pre-school children at risk of becoming terrorists and challenge any extremist ideas they may have, under new counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.
The duty being placed on childcare providers is in a consultation document which accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, which is currently being debated by Parliament. The document which has been criticised as 'unworkable' and 'heavy-handed' has been produced by the Home Office.
The document says nurseries and childcare providers plus schools and universities have a duty 'to prevent people being drawn into terrorism'.
The consultation paper says 'senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups. They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.'
David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, speaking to the Telegraph, said: 'It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.
'Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don't think so. It is heavy-handed.'
Isabella Sankey, policy director at human rights body Liberty, claimed that the guidance will turn 'our teachers and childminders into an army of involuntary spies' and said it will not stop the terrorist threat.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) voiced concerns that the new measure will erode the trust that is so important between childcare providers and parents.
The consultation closes on 30 January. To see the document go to www.gov.uk/government/consultations/prevent-duty
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