Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


APPENDIX 19

Memorandum submitted by the National Association of Muslim Police

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  National Association of Muslim Police represents 1000 police officers and staff throughout England, Wales and Scotland. We are committed to working with the police service and community to enhance security and help deliver safety to all of us.

  National Association of Muslim Police recommends that:

    (a)  Police services should monitor and record the faith of staff routinely.

    (b)  The increased use of Muslim Police Officers in Counter Terrorism Command in order to improve security operations.

    (c)  The current security vetting system be overhauled so as to enable BME and minority faith officers to serve in Counter Terrorism Command. This should be done in order ensure that there is effective recruitment of police into this area of operations.

    (d)  There needs to be a more systematic and uniform approach to the collection of such data recording faith hate incident and an research into the reasons for low reporting levels.

    (e)  Muslim officers should be utilised in an attempt to regain the confidence of the Muslim community through the use of outreach, community cohesion and youth mentoring projects.

  Better recruitment and retention of Officers from BME and minority faith community backgrounds will help to build a police force that reflects the society that it serves and improves confidence and trust within BME and minority communities in general and specifically within Muslim communities.

1.  NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM POLICE (NAMP)

1.1  Background

  The National Association of Muslim Police was formed on 11 July 2007 at British Transport Police headquarters 2007. Chief Constable Peter Fahy and Dr Bari General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain and the National Black Police Association attended the launch.

1.2  Aims of the Organisation

  The organisation has three key aims:

    1.  To increase recruitment, retention and progression of Muslim police officers and Police staff.

    2.  To support Muslim officers and staff in the organisation.

    3.  To assist and support social cohesion projects. (NAMP is currently working on projects that utilise Muslim Officers and Staff to mentor local Muslim young people).

1.3  Membership

  Enclosed in Annex 1 is the constitution and structure of the NAMP.

  Currently, the association has over 1000 members and has established branches in the following police forces:

British Transport Police

Cambridgeshire Police Service

Greater Manchester Police Service

Hertfordshire Constabulary

Metropolitan Police Service

West Midlands Police Service

Humberside Police Service

  In addition to this branches are being set up in Scotland, Yorkshire, Wales, Hampshire, City of London and Avon and Somerset.

2.  KEY SUBMISSIONS ON COUNTER-TERRORISM ISSUES

  We would like to bring six key issues to the attention of the home affairs select committee and the chair Keith Vaz, MP.

2.1  Monitoring faith of officers and staff in the police service

  The police service does not routinely record faith of its officers and staff. This has created a situation where there is a lack of precise information around faith and the police service. The NAMP believes that all police services should monitor and record the faith of staff routinely. This information can be used to assess whether the police service in the UK is reflective of the diverse faith communities that the police service serve.

  Data on ethnicity is often used to extrapolate assumed religion (this applies more often to prisoners than officers where there has been scant attempt to record faith). This method may have a degree of reliability for those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent (although there are significant numbers of Bangladeshi Hindus who would immediately be classed as Muslim on this ethnicity basis). Pakistanis and Bangladeshis only make up 60% of the Muslim population in the UK (2001 National Census),1 leaving a further 40% of Muslims of other ethnic groups. The Citizenship Survey (2001)2 found Muslims could be found in substantial numbers within 11 separate ethnic groups. Similarly name recognition programmes or processes risk excluding those who have non-Muslim names, including many converts.

2.2  The benefits of utilising greater number of Muslim Officers in Counter Terrorism Command

  The UK is facing an unprecedented security challenge from Al Qaeda and similar groups. NAMP believes using Muslim officers and staff in counter terrorism and other specialist units would assist in the development of a more effective operational policy. At present, we understand there are only a handful Muslim officers are employed in Counter Terrorism Commands in throughout the country.

  In the London Debate Counter Terrorism 2007 Recommendation 39. Redouble efforts to recruit more Muslim police officers and officers from other minority ethnic and faith groups, illustrates the community's desire to ensure Muslims offices and staff play a central part in dealing with terrorism.

  Muslim Police Officers join the service in order to serve and protect the entire community. The NAMP believes that given the specialist community knowledge of some Muslim Officers that the police service and Counter Terrorism Commands could deploy Muslim Officers more effectively.

  The NAMP has anxiety about the message given out to both Muslim Officers and the Muslim community given recent reports of the treatment of individual officers working in sensitive operational areas. This was exemplified by the cases of Muslim Officers whose security vetting has been removed. These incidents widely reported in 2006. A BBC report claimed an officer was told he posed a threat to national security as his children had attended a mosque where a Muslim cleric linked to a suspected terrorist group also attended.3

  The NAMP believes that incidents like this do further harm to the existing levels of mistrust held by the Muslim community towards the police. Members of the NAMP believe that police services need to work with all communities in order to combat extremism together. Part of this process is to reassure communities and build trust and confidence. This process would be eased with the use of more Muslim Officers in counter-terror operations.

2.3  Reform of security vetting system is required

  The present system of security vetting needs to be modernised to incorporate the both the wider Black and Minority Ethnic and religious minority communities in the United Kingdom. NAMP believes the present vetting system restricts the potential use of BME officers and staff to join counter terrorism commands because verification of officer's history in countries like Pakistan takes longer to complete and may not be verified to the satisfaction of United Kingdom and wider world security services. The NAMP would appreciate a reform of the vetting system to ensure that BME communities are not indirectly discriminated against.

  The NAMP believes the current vetting system is putting obstacles in the way of recruiting and promotion of BME officers. This may result in low morale and feelings of structural obstacles to promotion, which will have an adverse effect on retention. Furthermore, it is likely to impact on the operational ability of the police service and its capabilities within counter-terrorism operations.

2.4  Under-reporting of faith hate crime

  The NAMP believes that Islamophobia and indeed all faith hate crime is under reported. We would welcome the opportunity of a scrutiny of hate crime data to establish the accuracy of faith hate crime reporting. The Muslim Safety Forum and the MPS Association of Muslim Police are examining data collection of hate crime and potential improvements in collection and examination of data.

  At present, the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism (FAIR) and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHCR), voluntary organisations, collect data on hate crimes targeted at Muslims. However, these organisations rely on individuals' self-reporting as a means of collating information. Their findings show a substantial increase in hate crimes towards Muslims since 7 July 2005, and this trend has not abated since. This suggests that the animosity towards Muslims gathered momentum in the aftermath of the London bombings and continues to be expressed in terms of verbal and/or physical violence and intimidation. These findings are in line with findings from the EUMC (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, 2005) that shows the Metropolitan Police Service recorded a sharp increase in faith-related hate crimes, including verbal and physical assaults following the bombings of 7 July 2005.4

  Figures for 2005-06 show 43 cases of religiously aggravated crimes (up from a total of 18 cases in the period between December 2001 and March 2003). Of these 43 cases, the victims' religious identities were unknown or not stated in 21 incidents; of the remaining 22 incidents, the overwhelming majority of victims were Muslims (18). The remainder were Christians (3) and Sikh (1), (CPS, 2006: 45).5

  Most racist and faith hate incidents are not reported to police. In September 2005, in a representative sample of over a 1,000 people in Greater London, a MORI poll6 found that only 11% of those who had experienced a racist incident reported it to the police. The following statements received the most support for encouraging reporting such incidents:

    (a)  "Knowing that it would make a difference" (25%);

    (b)  "If people had confidence in the police being more supportive of Black and minority ethnic groups" (21%); and

    (c)  "Knowing that the police would take you seriously" (20%).

  The NAMP believes this extends to the reporting of faith hate crime and highlights the amount of work to be done in rebuilding trust in the police.

  The NAMP recommends that there needs to be a more systematic and uniform approach to the collection of such data recording faith hate incident. Also, there needs to be more analysis and research done by police services into the lack of incidents reported to the police in order to understand and respond to the lack of confidence in the police that individuals have in reporting crime. In this way, the NAMP believes that police services can create a strategy to combat the low levels of hate crime reporting and rebuild trust in the police within the Muslim community. Clearly, the lack of confidence in police powers is not restricted to the Muslim community alone though given the scrutiny that the Muslim community in under it is essential that confidence in the police is evident within the Muslim communities that they serve.

2.5  Utilise Muslim Officers in developing community cohesion projects on the ground

  NAMP is keen to utilise Muslim officers and staff to develop social cohesion projects focusing on mentoring. The police service must value the important skills Muslim officers and staff bring to the police service. The Metropolitan Police branch of the NAMP worked in partnership with the Atlee Youth Centre in Tower Hamlets in a pilot-mentoring scheme for Muslim young people.

  Current legislation and policies that place emphasis on counter-terror measures including increased stop and searches have undermined the trust of the communities in the police. (Open Society Institute, 2005).7 (Following the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, the numbers of stop and search on the White community increased by 118%, and correspondingly there was an increase of 302% in the stop and searches of Asians (Home Office 2003)).8

  Skilled Muslim officers should be utilised in an attempt to regain the confidence of the Muslim community. There are a multitude of successful mentoring schemes targeted at BME communities, many of which pair professionals with young people. The majority of these schemes focus on developing academic and employment skills. The success of these schemes highlights the readiness and need of individuals to be involved as mentors and mentees. In order for policing to be successful and trust to be regained, communities need to be aware of the police fulfilling roles that are not simply about casting suspicion, arresting and detaining individuals. Providing a Muslim-led mentoring facility will increase the awareness of Muslims in the police force, and allow young people to identify with the police in a way that is currently lacking. The NAMP believes that Muslim Police officers working with other professionals can provide good community role models in order to encourage the process of integration and cohesion in society.

  Given that a major focus of counter-terror initiatives is on British-born /raised Muslims, it is imperative that police services positively engage with Muslim youth. The NAMP believes that there is a need to seriously ensure that "hearts and minds" are won over within communities and that through the process of outreach feelings of alienation and isolation can be avoided. Current levels of mistrust and feelings of being targeted by the police9 amongst young British Muslims will be best addressed through direct communication. Young people are likely to be more receptive to messages coming to them from people that they already identify with such as those with similar ethnic or faith backgrounds.

  The NAMP believes that Muslim Officers will be effective in community outreach and provide good role models. The NAMP would welcome more support for these forms of outreach programmes.

  Police-led community cohesion programmes build working relations within communities and can act as a conduit for future recruitment. The NAMP believes this is the only way to ensure that there is a better level of recruitment amongst BME and minority faith communities. This is the only way to build a police service which has serving officers that reflect the diverse make-up of the population that it serves.

2.6  Under-representation of BME and minority faith communities within the police service

  Only 3.9% of the police service is from the BME communities and 95% of those are in the most junior ranks. The police service middle management and senior management does not reflect society the police serves particularly in metropolitan areas eg the population of London is 32.5% BME (GLA DMAG Projection10) and only 8% of MPS officers are BME. We estimate there are 300 Muslim officers in the MPS.

  In 1981 Lord Scarman's report on the Brixton uprising stated that "there is widespread agreement that the composition of our police forces must reflect the make-up of the society they serve" and emphasised that "A police force which fails to reflect the ethnic diversity of our society will never succeed in securing the full support of all its sections" (Scarman, 1981:76).11 Over a quarter of a century later, even with increasing recruitment rates, and recognition of the recommendations of the Macpherson Report12 we are nowhere near to having a representative police force on the grounds of ethnicity or religion.

  The NAMP believes that whilst the use of independent advisors to the police serves a purpose, it is in no way an adequate alternative to recruiting police officers that reflect the society that they serve. In the long-term the only way of ensuring confidence in the police forces is by ensuring better recruitment from minority recruitments. This has been evidenced by the reforms to the Northern Ireland Police Service.

  The NAMP aims to help rectify the current situation by ensuring that a strong membership body supports the increased recruitment, retention and progression of Muslim police officers and staff. This will be achieved by providing support for existing NAMP member and assisting both Muslim and non-Muslim Police Officers in outreach in order to rebuild trust in the community.

3.  RECOMMENDATIONS

  In summary, the NAMP recommends that:

    (a)  Police services should monitor and record the faith of staff routinely.

    (b)  The increased use of Muslim Police Officers in Counter Terrorism Command in order to improve security operations.

    (c)  The current security vetting system be overhauled so as to enable BME and minority faith officers to serve in Counter Terrorism Command. This should be done in order ensure that there is effective recruitment of police into this area of operations.

    (d)  There needs to be a more systematic and uniform approach to the collection of such data recording faith hate incident and an research into the reasons for low reporting levels.

    (e)  Muslim officers should be utilised in an attempt to regain the confidence of the Muslim community through the use of outreach, community cohesion and youth mentoring projects.

    (f)  Better recruitment and retention of Officers from BME and minority faith community backgrounds will help to build a police force that reflects the society that it serves and improves confidence and trust within BME and minority communities in general and specifically within Muslim communities.

REFERENCES

1  National Census 2001 http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/profiles/commentaries/ethnicity.asp

accessed 17/11/07

2  O'Beirne, 2001 Religion in England and Wales, p 8.

3  Muslim Police Officer Suing Met, 2006, BBC News 7 November 2006,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6123472.stm accessed 17/11/07.

4  European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, 2005, The Impact of 7 July 2005 London Bomb Attacks on Muslim Communities in the EU

http://fra.europa.eu/fra/material/pub/London/London-Bomb-attacks-EN.pdf accessed 17/11/07.

5  Crown Prosecution Service, 2006, Racist and Religious Incident Monitoring.

6  Full results of the poll at: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/consultation/docs/sep05_poll.pdf accessed 17/11/07.

7  British Muslims and the Criminal Justice System. 2005, Open Society Institute.

8  Rise in Police Searches of Asians, 2004 BBC News, 2 July 2004.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3859023.stm accessed 17/11/07.

9  Interview with the Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, March 2004, London. Interview with Rashid Skinner, Muslim community representative, March 2004, Bradford.

10  Greater London Authority Data Management and Analysis Group, 2007, GLA 2006 Round Ethnic Group Projections www.london.gov.uk/gla/publications/factsandfigures/DMAG-Briefing-2007-14-2006.pdf. The 2001 Census put the BME population at 29%.

11  Scarman, 1981, The Brixton disorders 10-12 April 1981.

12  Macpherson, 1999, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

November 2007



 
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Prepared 19 December 2007