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Top Muslim cop: Monitor your kids

Police and parents should "move into the private space" of children to counteract their exposure to extremism, the country's most senior Muslim police chief has said.

Metropolitan Police commander Mak Chishty cited an example of Muslim children as young as five having referred to Christmas as "haram", meaning it was forbidden by Islam.

And he said the country was in "uncharted water" in terms of the risk posed by Islamic State (IS) recruiters reaching youngsters through social media on mobile phones.

The force revealed last week more than 700 British extremists had travelled to Syria, with around half thought to have returned to the UK.

The Met's lead for community engagement told the Guardian: "We need to be less precious about the private space. This is not about us invading private thoughts, but acknowledging that it is in these private spaces where this (extremism) first germinates.

"The purpose of private space intervention is to engage, explore, explain, educate or eradicate. Hate and extremism is not acceptable in our society and if people cannot be educated then extremism must be eradicated through all lawful measures."

"(Private space) is anything from walking down the road, looking at a mobile, to someone in a bedroom surfing the net, to someone in a shisha cafe talking about things."

Commander Chishty added he felt, as a parent himself, that other families should be "extra-vigilant" of signs of extremism in their children.

The Met's statistics also revealed increasing numbers of women and teenagers becoming embroiled in extremism.

They showed that more than one in 10 (11%) of those arrested on suspicion of terror-related crimes in 2014/15 were female while 17% were under 20.

Last week, an apparent plot by a 16 year old to travel to Syria was foiled by police when the girl's older sister tried to persuade an undercover reporter posing online as a 16-year-old girl to accompany the younger sister to Syria, according to the Daily Mail.

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