Beds, Herts & Bucks

Family to get payout over school's toy gun police call

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Media captionTerror fear toy gun family get Central Bedfordshire Council apology

A mother has told of the psychological impact on her two young sons of being removed from class and quizzed by police about their toy guns.

The children, aged five and seven, were at their Bedfordshire school when they revealed their parents had bought them the toys, in March 2016.

The school told police and the two boys were questioned. Their mother says they have since been having nightmares.

The local council has accepted the children were discriminated against.

Central Bedfordshire Council has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum in compensation.

Speaking to the BBC, the boys' mother, who has asked to remain anonymous in order to protect the identity of her children, told how she was called in to school and spent a couple of hours waiting for her children.

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The mother, who is of Indian Hindu heritage, was told one of the boys had been speaking Arabic and talked about attending a mosque, yet she said none of the family spoke Arabic and the children did not go to mosques.

The guns they owned were bright green and orange and made from plastic.

"I was told they had displayed signs that were worrying in terms of being reasonable indicators of being involved in terrorist activity," she said.

"They had no other reason to believe they had any signs of extremism other than the colour of their skin.

"I understand that [terrorism] is a problem, but this is a rather blunt instrument with which to tackle it.

"There are some residual effects - both boys have suffering nightmares. My younger boy fears he might taken away. We are trying to help them move on."

She said she felt her family's reputation "had been trashed".

The school, which is understood to have called the police under the government's Prevent Strategy, would not comment on the case and instead referred the BBC to the local education authority, Central Bedfordshire Council.

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Image caption Schools are obliged to follow the "Prevent" guidance, aimed at tackling extremism, under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015

The authority said the school had not followed "council procedures".

"We accept the boys were discriminated against and have apologised to the family."

Bedfordshire Police said: "We were called to reports of concern for safety and two officers attended - this was not in a 'Prevent' capacity but routine police attendance and the officers were only present for a short time."

The boys have since been moved to another council-run primary school.

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