Police have told teachers that anti-fracking protesters could be seen as potential extremists under the government’s new counter-terrorism strategy.
The ‘advice’ was offered during a training session as part of the Prevent strategy, which aims to stop youngsters being brainwashed by Islamic extremists.
Under controversial new guidelines, teachers are now required to monitor their pupils and report any concerns they may have about radicalisation.
The MailOnline reports: The group of 100 teachers were told that people campaigning against fracking in their local area could be regarded as having extreme views.
They were also warned that environmental activists and anti-capitalists could be deemed a threat, with the Green MP Caroline Lucas given as an example.
Dylan Murphy, a history teacher present at the training day, said: ‘The thing that set alarm bells ringing in my head was when he started talking about environmental activists. ‘I thought, “Are you equating anti-fracking protests and environmental protesters with neo-Nazis and terrorists?”’
Yesterday, critics voiced concerns that officers appeared to be widening the remit of counterterrorism strategies in schools to include protest groups.
Amanda Brown, assistant general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: ‘I’m quite alarmed that a police officer, who people would trust and think is offering the right advice, would say that it might be considered as extremism that someone is expressing their right, in a democracy, to express a view.’
The training session was delivered to teachers from several different schools in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, the Times Educational Supplement reported.
One teacher said the officer referred to the behaviour of Ms Lucas – who was arrested for her part in blocking a road at an anti-fracking demonstration in 2013 – as an example of extremism.
A source at West Yorkshire Police confirmed that the officer at the session had referred to the MP as an example but did not intend to suggest that she was a violent extremist.