A High Court judge has allowed three children to remain in the care of their parents after they rejected the radical and extremist views which they had previously shared on social media.
The judge praised the efforts of an independent radicalisation expert and unnamed local authority in the case, which he said had delivered “a positive outcome” for the family.
The children, referred to as C, D and E, had initially been taken into care after the parents were stopped at Folkestone, with the children in the car, and the local authority and police believed their ultimate intention was to travel to Syria. They were returned into the care of their parents in November last year, however the parents had to be fitted with electronic tags and agree to a contract with the local authority.
In the nine months following a fact-finding hearing held in January this year, the parents underwent a specialist piece of work and assessment regarding their attitudes and opinions to Islam.
“There is now good evidence that the parents reject their previous ideological beliefs, which they now acknowledge to have been extreme and unorthodox; there is no evidence that they have in any sense indoctrinated C and D; they have a much more resilient attitude to extreme ideology and previously,” Justice Cobb said.
In the fact-finding hearing, Cobb said he did not believe there was the evidence to definitely prove the family was travelling to Syria when they were stopped. However, he felt it was clear the family hadn’t been honest with him and it may have been their intention, if not immediately, to eventually end up in Syria.
Videos had also been posted to YouTube showing the father with someone “known for his extreme views” and made scripted videos where he said “the Prophet was sent to make ‘Islam dominant over every other way of life’”.
The father had also tweeted after a social services visit: “social workers who don’t have children come to your house (dressed as whores) telling you how to bring up your children”, which he later accepted was wrong.
Justice Cobb had initially said: “Over the first half of 2015, the evidence reveals increasing participation by the parents in activity among those who clearly espoused and promulgated extreme and/or radical views about Islam. There was a crescendo in the parents’ interest in sharing views on social media of an extremist nature; they posted messages which I am satisfied indicated their own support for terrorist activities, individual known terrorists and terrorist organisations; they clearly adopted, openly supported and repeated the views of others who proclaimed similarly radical views.”
Cobb concluded: “While relieved to record, as I have, that the parents’ extreme and radical fervour has not (yet) infected the children, there is a likelihood that, unless checked, it will do so; if it does so, it will cause these children really serious or ‘significant’ harm.”
After this hearing, the parents accepted the findings of the court and wanted to work with the local authority to address the concerns.
The father said, shortly after the fact-finding hearing, “I cannot fully explain why I allowed myself to get drawn into radical extreme thinking” and both parents accepted what they had done was “wrong”.
Justice Cobb said he accepted there was a risk the parents had complied “superficially” and said what professionals wanted to hear but the parents had also undoubtedly responded more positively to the interventions of social workers.
“I am sufficiently satisfied from the reports of Mr Ali, who is experienced in working with those who hold and promulgate extremist views, that the attitudes of these parents have genuinely changed,” Cobb concluded.
He discharged existing interim care orders affecting the three children, and made none to replace them. The children will remain on a child in need plan.