Hundreds of children are being subjected to physical abuse in madrassas, an investigation claims.

At least 250,000 Muslim youngsters attend the religious instruction centres, which are not formally regulated.

And more than 400 allegations of physical abuse have been made over the past three years, with the total reaching 146 last year and 89 in 2009.

Prosecutors fear the real numbers may be higher because many parents are reluctant to make formal complaints – or are pressured to withdraw them.

Read the complete original version of this item...