Prevent Watch

The Optician Case

Date: April 2018
Sector: Health / NHS / Optician
Region: Greater London
Gender: Male

TI is 9 years old. He had an appointment to see an optician and was accompanied by his father. Almost immediately upon commencing the eye examination, the Optician asked TI if he had Chloe, Rebecca, Emily, Barbara and other English girls in his class. TI felt confused by the question and said he did not have these girls in his class.

The Optician then repeated the question six or seven times. He repeated the names of the girls emphatically and asked TI whether he had “these English girls” in his class. TI was still feeling confused and started to feel uncomfortable. TI asked the Optician “why do you keep asking these questions?” The Optician proceeded to state that “you go to one of them schools” and that “you don’t go to school with English kids do you?” The Optician then appeared to smirk.

TI felt highly apprehensive and asked what the problem was. The Optician asked TI “do you know who the Prime Minister is?” TI answered “Theresa May”. The Optician then asked “how many paragraphs of English can you write?” to which TI responded that “four or five”. The Optician stated that ‘Emily, Rebecca and other English children can write four pages, why cant you?’ The Optician proceeded to repeat this statement six or seven times, asking TI over and over “why can’t you?”

TI was becoming extremely upset at this stage. TI’s father was standing in the room throughout this time and asked the Optician about interrogating his son. TI’s father questioned why the Optician was asking his child such irrelevant and inappropriate questions, as they had no relevance to testing his son’s eyes. The Optician appeared taken back by this and admitted that he had recently attended Prevent training.

TI’s father then told the Optician that Prevent seemed to be a highly discriminatory policy and that it was upsetting his son. TI’s father proceeded to inform the Optician that his behaviour was highly discriminatory against a 9-year-old child. TI’s father told the Optician not to question his child like this. The Optician accepted that he was interrogating TI under Prevent.

TI was left traumatised by the events and was tearful on his way back home from the appointment. He asked his father if he had done something wrong, why he did not have any English kids in his class and if he was not good enough. TI has always been proud of his British heritage but was made to feel like he did not belong here and had been ‘otherised’ following what should have been a simple Optical check.

TI’s parents were shocked and appalled by the Optician’s behaviour. Prevent Watch documented the case and assisted the family with submitting a complaint to the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS). The family is now waiting for a response from the OCCS who are taking the matter seriously.

In this case, a 9-year-old child was interrogated and traumatised without reason and based on Prevent (WRAP) training. The case demonstrates the direct consequences of the flawed and inadequate Prevent policy, which has suspicion of Muslims at the forefront, a reflection of the Prevent policy itself.

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