Preston schoolchildren investigated by police after Quran is desecrated at Fulwood Academy
Two schoolchildren are being investigated by police after the Quran was desecrated at a high school in Preston last week.
Fulwood Academy says the holy book was 'desecrated' twice in separate incidents at the school on Thursday (June 10), when two pupils from different year groups abused the Quran in front of other children.
Fulwood Academy say both pupils have since been suspended and the offensive acts have been reported to police and Prevent (part of the government's counter-terrorism programme).
Lancashire Police attended the school on Friday morning and two students were taken to Preston Police Station on Saturday morning where they were interviewed by officers.
The force has confirmed it is investigating the provocative acts as potential hate crimes and the matter is being treated as a 'Critical Incident'.
Both the school and the police have not said how the religious text was 'desecrated', but the acts have been described as 'abhorrent' and 'appalling'.
A police spokesman said: "We are aware of two isolated incidents which took place earlier this week and we are working closely with the school to address these matters.
"We are aware of the impact this incident has had within the community and for that reason we are treating it as a Critical Incident.
"Our enquiries are very much ongoing and we are working closely with the school to address these matters.
"Everyone in our county should be allowed to live their lives free from harassment and the fear of hate crime.
"Hate crime causes great distress to its victims and we are committed to investigating all crimes and incidents motivated by hate, supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice."
What happened at Fulwood Academy?
The high school in Black Bull Lane has condemned the actions of the two pupils as "abhorrent" and "appalling". It is reported that the Quran was 'ripped up' by a boy who had been making offensive comments about Islam in front of his classmates on Thursday (June 10).
The next day (Friday, June 11), the school received reports of a second incident in which the Quran had reportedly been desecrated by one of its female pupils.
The incidents were reported to police and officers visited the school on Friday morning (June 11). Both students were taken to a police station for questioning.
In a letter to parents on Sunday evening (June 13), Fulwood Academy said it has acted quickly in identifying those involved and the matter is now in the hands of police.
Principal Dave Lancaster said the school intends to "heal the hurt" that has been caused and said it is reaching out to local imams for their support.
The school said it is also seeking to understand what has led to these 'abhorrent' acts, which it says it has "never seen in our school before".
Fulwood Academy has been approached for comment.
This is the full letter from Fulwood Academy to parents
A school letter to parents said: "Fulwood Academy is a place where we strive to develop a culture of respect so that every child can achieve and become individuals our community can be proud of.
"At the end of last week, however, there were two separate incidents at the school that sit deeply at odds with everything we stand for.
"For reasons that we are yet to fully understand, it appears that two students from different year groups brought copies of the Quran to the school, and desecrated the holy book in front of a number of other students.
"Actions such as this are abhorrent, and have no place in any community. We immediately notified the police and Prevent, and we have been working closely with them over the last few days. They have started their own processes of looking into these appalling incidents.
"While we do not know what the outcome of that process will be, as we understand it, charging decisions for issues like this lie with the Crown Prosecution Service rather than the police. This means it is likely to take longer to conclude.
"We can also confirm that both students have been suspended while these investigations are underway. Sanctions from the school will reviewed and determined once the police have concluded their work.
"In addition, immediately after the acts, we spoke to the students who witnessed these actions, and also their families, to explain what had happened and offer our support.
"While clearly there need to be ramifications for those involved, it is also vital that we understand what caused these acts, which we have never seen in our school before, to take place as they have.
"We cannot do this alone. We are working with the police, and have already contacted all the appropriate authorities. Above all, however, we have reached out to local imams to ask for their support in helping us respond to this.
"We are deeply aware that we need to heal the hurt that has undoubtedly been caused, and look at what we can do to support all members of the Fulwood Academy community.
"We will, ofcourse, keep you updated about this over the next few days as things progress. It is not our intention to hide or shy away from these acts, and we can assure everyone that we will work together to further strengthen our community and build on our deep commitment to inclusion, diversity and equality."
Fulwood Academy has been approached for comment.
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