Home Crime Cameron extends parent powers to block passports

Cameron extends parent powers to block passports

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Prime Minister David Cameron

If parents fear their children could go overseas to join terror groups then more parents will be able to ask for their children’s passports to be cancelled. Asian Lite reports

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

The power already covers under-16s, but will be widened to 16 and 17-year-olds, says the PM David Cameron.

Anyone with a conviction for extremist activity will also be automatically barred from working with children and vulnerable people, under the plans.

But Muslim leaders warned the strategy “continues down a flawed path” and risks “alienating” Muslims in Britain, reports BBC news.

Parents of children aged under 16 have had the power to request the cancellation of passports – even where a child has taken or hidden the actual document – since July.

Families can contact a passport office where officials will investigate their concerns before a final decision is taken by the home secretary.

The government has already announced other measures as part of its counter-extremism strategy, including:

  • Bans on radical preachers posting material online
  • Extremism disruption orders to stop individuals engaging in extremist behaviour
  • Closure orders for law enforcement and local authorities to close down premises used to support extremism
  • Tougher powers for broadcasting regulator Ofcom so action can be taken against radio and television channels showing extremist content
  • Demands that internet service providers do more to remove extremist material and identify those responsible for it

Police estimate at least 700 people from the UK travelled to support jihadists who have organisations in Syria and Iraq, such as the so-called Islamic State.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the passport measure had only been used by “a small number” of parents since July, but it was part of a package of new powers that would help tackle extremism, adds BBC news.

She also acknowledged, however, that in some cases it was parents themselves who were choosing to take their children overseas to join terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said new rules on working with children and vulnerable people would apply to anyone coming into contact with those groups, including volunteers, and would see extremists treated in the same way as sex offenders.

Anyone leaving prison after serving a sentence for terror offences will also have to undergo compulsory de-radicalisation classes.

Secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain Dr Shuja Shafi accused the prime minister of a “misguided ‘conveyor-belt theory’ analysis that conflates terrorism with subjective notions of extremism and Islamic practices” over his strategy.Shafi tild the BBC news “Whether it is in mosques, education or charities, the strategy will reinforce perceptions that all aspects of Muslim life must undergo a ‘compliance’ test to prove our loyalty to this country.”

“These measures could be seen more as a means to address the anxieties a minority of people may have against Muslims and their religious life, rather than the scourge of terrorism itself.”

Dr Shafi also said he detected “McCarthyist undertones” in the plans to create blacklists and exclude and ban people those deemed to be extremists.