Adults tagged to stop them taking their children to join ISIS in Syria

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  • Children were placed in foster care after families stopped travelling to Syria
  • Judge orders adult members of both families to be fitted with devices 
  • Order thought to be first of its kind to stop children being taken from UK
  • Sir James Munby said the children needed to be returned to their parents 

By Sam Matthew for MailOnline

Published: 14:45 GMT, 4 August 2015 | Updated: 16:50 GMT, 4 August 2015

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Sir James Munby ordered that the adult members of the two families should be fitted with electronic tags

Sir James Munby ordered that the adult members of the two families should be fitted with electronic tags

The parents of two families thought to be at risk of taking their children to Isis-controlled areas are to be electronically tagged.

Top judge Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, ordered the tagging measure - believed to be the first of its kind - so they can be reunited with their children after trying to travel to Syria. 

Local authorities who placed the children in foster care opposed them being returned to their families pending full fact-finding hearings of the cases later this year.

But the country's most senior family judge ruled that the the risk of them being taken from the UK was 'very small indeed' and counter-balanced by the children's need to be returned to parental care.

Sir James announced he was intending to make the tagging orders as part of a package of safety measures in a judgment he gave last week.

But he postponed making the orders until today to consider concerns about the monitoring raised by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which described the situation as 'unprecedented'.

There have been a number of high profile cases of families from Britain travelling to Syria and Iraq, including parents taking children.

Three missing Bradford sisters Khadija, Sugra and Zohra Dawood are believed to have fled to Syria to join ISIS with their nine children in March. 

The judge said the current case arose after two family groups were detained at airports - one in the UK and one in Turkey - earlier this year when security officials became concerned they were heading to Islamic State areas in Syria.

He did not identify those involved.

One group – known as the X case - includes a mother who was detained at an airport with four children aged between three and 13, and her uncle and grandmother, trying to board a flight to Turkey.

A separate family – known as the Y case - case also involves four children aged between one and 11 years old 

The adults will be electronically tagged over fears they could  travel with their children to Syria join ISIS fanatics

The adults will be electronically tagged over fears they could  travel with their children to Syria join ISIS fanatics

The two eldest children were with their mother and older brother. The brother was with his two children, and the children's mother.

The group was detained by the Turkish authorities in April this year close to the border with that part of Syria controlled by ISIS.  

He said social workers had taken the cases to family court in a bid to protect the children.

Youngsters were placed in foster care pending decisions about their long-term futures, due to be made at hearings in October and December.

Sir James said he had to decide whether youngsters could be returned to parents pending future hearings and final decisions.

He said he had concluded that they could - despite social workers raising fears that children would be taken to IS areas and their lives put at risk - provided 'comprehensive' protection packages were in place.

He said parents had agreed to submit to a range of restrictions - including electronic tagging, living at specified addresses and regularly reporting to police - if children could return home.

Three missing Bradford sisters - Khadija, Sugra and Zohra Dawood - are believed to have fled to Syria to join ISIS with their nine children in March

Three missing Bradford sisters - Khadija, Sugra and Zohra Dawood - are believed to have fled to Syria to join ISIS with their nine children in March

'I accept that there is some degree of risk of successful flight,' said Sir James.

'But, taking a realistic view, though not forgetting that we are here in the realm of unknown unknowns, my considered assessment is that the degree of that risk is very small indeed, so small that it is counter-balanced by the children's welfare needs to be returned to parental care.

'I should add, to make plain, that in relation to their welfare (leaving flight risk on one side), the benefits all of these children will derive from being returned to their parents clearly, in my judgment, outweigh any and all of such contrary welfare arguments.'

The judge ruled that radio frequency (RF) tagging - plus an additional curfew period - should be used until GPS tagging, which offers a greater measure of security, can be put in place in a fortnight.

The local authorities involved had decided the risks of returning the children were too great and they would not be able effectively to manage them.

The children are now wards of court and it is the court that has responsibility for making decisions on their behalf. 

The case was heard by Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court

The case was heard by Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court

 

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