- Judges issued care proceedings against 11 families, new figures reveal
- Children were to be taken over fears they could be lured by Islamic State
- Youngest was one-year-old taken from family caught sneaking into Syria
- Senior judge Sir James Munby issue new guidance for IS-related cases
A baby is among more than 20 children who have been made the subject of court orders amid fears they could be radicalised by Islamists.
Judges have issued care or wardship proceedings involving at least 11 families amid concerns their children could be taken or lured out of the country to join Islamic State.
The youngest – a one-year-old – was part of a family of nine Britons from Rochdale who were caught trying to sneak into Syria from Turkey in April.
The figures were revealed yesterday as Sir James Munby, one of the most senior judges in England and Wales, issued new guidance to deal with the growing number of IS-related cases in the family courts.
The announcement came after Prime Minister David Cameron warned at the Tory conference on Wednesday that the ‘shadow’ of Muslim extremism was putting the UK ‘in danger’.
He launched a withering attack on the ‘passive tolerance’ of Islamism whose ideology was ‘infecting minds’ across the world.
The authorities have become increasingly concerned about the threat posed to teenagers who are groomed over the internet to fight in Syria, become ‘jihadi brides’ or carry out terrorist atrocities on British streets.
In other instances, their older siblings or parents have been radicalised and try to relocate to join the terror group.
Judges have issued care or wardship proceedings involving at least 11 families and Sir James Munby issued new guidelines for IS-related cases
Judges are now using orders to protect vulnerable children. They can make them wards of court, place them in foster care temporarily, or prevent them leaving the country.
The strongly-worded guidance issued by Sir James, president of the Family Division of the High Court, referred to six cases – some ongoing – which have taken place since the start of the year. More cases are going through the courts, say judicial sources.
‘Recent months have seen increasing numbers of children cases coming before… the family court,’ he said.
‘There are allegations that children, with their parents or on their own, are planning or being groomed to travel to parts of Syria controlled by the so-called Islamic State; that children are at risk of being radicalised; or that children are at risk of being involved in terrorist activities either in this country or abroad.’
He said police forces should become more involved in applying for court orders, rather than relying on local councils to act.
But Sir James stressed that the interests of children remained ‘paramount’ and could not be ‘eclipsed’ by the importance of counter-terrorism operations.
High-profile cases include a 16-year-old girl who was radicalised in a family home which was filled with IS propaganda.
She was removed from her parents in August. Bombmaking guides and beheading pictures were found on electronic devices at the property in Tower Hamlets, East London.
A High Court judge said her ‘deceitful’ mother and father had done as much harm to the schoolgirl as child molesters.
Also in August, adult members of two families were ordered by a judge to be fitted with electronic monitoring tags because of fears they could take children to areas controlled by Islamic State.
One of the families was tagged after being detained in Turkey while attempting to sneak over the border with four children aged 11, nine, four and one – into territory held by Muslim fanatics.
In March, a judge banned five girls – three aged 16 and two 15 – from travelling abroad after they showed an interest in going to Syria. He ordered their passports to be taken and for them to be made wards of the court.
Four of the girls from Bethnal Green Academy in east London were associated with girls who had already joined IS.
Concerns for their welfare were raised by police after classmates Kadiza Sultana, 16, Shamima Begum, 15, and Amira Abase, 15, fled to Syria in February.
At the time, Mr Justice Hayden, who oversaw the case, said there was evidence to suggest the families had not been ‘frank’ with social services and the girls were becoming ‘more radicalised’.
Hannah Stuart, a counter-radicalisation expert at security think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘Both among those who support people joining the conflict in Syria or who want to see terror acts committed here, we see a recurring obsession with the radicalisation of children.
‘We are seeing a generation who are getting older and having children, and those children are growing up in an environment where there is a risk of them being taken to Syria – or being told that it is right to hate non-Muslims and desire martyrdom.’
Meanwhile, it emerged that more than 300 of the 796 people referred to the government’s Channel de-radicalisation scheme between June and August this year were aged under 18.