The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Met) has apologised to the families of the three missing girls, who are feared to have left Britain to join the extremist militant group Islamic State (IS), after the police sent a letter warning the schoolgirls against radicalisation to the girls instead of the parents. Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16 are now believed to be in Syria.
The families of the girls complained that the letter – which told of a friend of the girls who went to Syria in 2014 – was given to the pupils instead of being sent directly to them.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said, “I’m sorry that [the families] are in this situation and I’m also sorry that the letter we intended to get to them didn’t get through. Clearly, that failed. It was intended for them, and it failed, and for that of course we are sorry.”
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told MPs he was sorry the letter “didn’t get through” but added the police were unaware the schoolgirls were planning to escape the country.
The families of the schoolgirls told the Home Affairs Select Committee that had they known one of the girls’ friends had already gone to Syria, they would have done more to monitor their own girls.
It has emerged that all four teenagers were friends and pupils at Bethnal Green Academy in east London.
The solicitor representing the families of the three missing schoolgirls said that police “effectively called the families out to be liars”. Tasnime Akunjee said that police should have informed the families about the letters which were sent directly to the schoolgirls and contained information about possible radicalisation.
In an interview with LBC radio station today, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Everyone has a role to play” in stopping Britons joining IS, including politicians, parents, communities and schools. He added, “Let’s not pretend this is simply a problem that can be dealt with by policing.”
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri