Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 11:29 UK

Parents 'key' in terrorism fight

Muslim father praying with children
Mr Burnett believes Muslim parents are the key to fighting terrorism.

Muslim parents could be placed at the forefront of a new anti-terror strategy being developed in Scotland.

The head of counter-terrorism for the police in Scotland, said parents should be encouraged to come forward if they had concerns about their children.

Allan Burnett believes such an approach could help rehabilitate youths who had become radicalised.

He also said lenient sentences should be considered where parental help had prevented "serious" criminal acts.

Mr Burnett will outline details of a new approach being formulated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos) at conference in Glasgow on Friday.

If parents come forward and tell us they have concerns about their child I think it's a terrible message, if, after an inquiry, that child gets a severe sentence.
Allan Burnett, Acpos head of counter-terrorism
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme he said the new direction was not a "soft option".

He said: "While we deal very strongly with the hard end of terrorism, we've also got to be aware of the message we're sending out at the low levels involving young people.

"If parents come forward and tell us they have concerns about their child I think it's a terrible message, if, after an inquiry, that child gets a severe sentence.

"I think we can look at another disposal where the parents are involved and perhaps make it a good degree lenient and send out an appropriate message that doesn't act as a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists."

'Shared values'

Mr Burnett said the courts should differentiate between those young people who had "shown an interest" in terrorism and those who had "crossed the line" and "caused mayhem and murder".

He added: "I think it's appropriate to have things in place that recognise that interest and encourage the community to report those interests.

"We will then work with the community to look at alternative ways of getting them back on an appropriate path."

Highlighting "shared values" between communities is, according to Mr Burnett, one of the ways to prevent radicalisation.

He also believed that "an appropriate version of Islam" should be taught to young people, ensuring they have alternatives to the message of extremists.

Mr Burnett said the key to preventing terrorist acts was to work with the wider community and engage young people before they became involved in criminal activity.


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