Tell MAMA are launching the National Mosques Security Panel which will implement practical training and security measures for mosques in the U.K.
The recent attack by a far-right extremist on two mosques in New Zealand highlight the need for mosques to develop security planning measures and to implement practical ways by which staff can ensure that crowd management can take place and thereby maintain the safety and security of people coming into and out of respective mosques.
We have listed the main aims of the National Mosques Security Panel and its work programme. These include the fact that:
- Any installation of security features must be part of a wider programme of ‘community confidence’ (building safer and stronger communities) and in this respect, work conducted at local, regional and national levels will also involve communications campaigns which bring communities together. This will also ensure that faith communities sign up to the principles of standing together at times of crises.
- There are existing tactical plans within police forces for times of heightened tensions which treat each and every hate crime report similar to a critical incident requiring the personal supervision and direction of the Duty Inspector. This requires proactive communications and engagement to any hate crime report with a dynamic community impact assessment. Such a response will serve to enhance community engagement and has a relatively low impact on police resources but an enduringly positive impact on community confidence. The work of the National Mosques Security Panel will be to implement and oversight delivery plans so that they meet the objective of providing a wider community assessment to statutory agencies at points of crisis.
- Community Impact and Threat Analysis: The best place to gather community sentiment and details of actual incidents is from the community level itself and Tell MAMA is perfectly poised to grow into this space, given its grass roots hate crime work that it undertakes. Tell MAMA will produce an intelligence product similar to a strategic assessment, which will be based on evaluated information with provenance; helping not only to inform the national threat assessment picture but also having the ability to feed into local tasking processes from which resource deployment decisions can be made in respect of patrol strategies or responses. A suggested, given the community information that comes into Tell MAMA, it is well poised to provide this community-based product.
- Protective Security: Effective protective security must be part of a wider approach which is far more than physical security and security guards, although they are important features. It must include educating the wider community, for instance by further cascading “Argus and Griffin”, ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ and the “ACT’ Campaign. This will help grow a ‘security culture’ within and across communities and through building local community confidence it becomes more likely that suspicious activity is reported into the authorities especially in relation to the ‘lone – low tech self-starter’ attacker which is normally hard to spot. Protective Security must be based upon an assessment (SecCo trained) which provides an efficient and incisive assessment of security needs and reduces the risk of responding to everything just because people are fearful, (confidence and reassurance is best achieved through engagement). The National Mosque Security Panel will be instrumental in the delivery of protective security measures for mosques based on the professional standards mentioned.
Training is a huge part as simply installing CCTV, Alarms and Lighting do not provide protection if not used properly and proactively. The National Mosque Security Panel will be developing a product with active monitoring, perimeter walks, physical checks of the building, system checks and response and regular drills of likely scenarios affecting mosques included within it.
In addition to this, the protective security products for mosques will include a written control strategy to mitigate risks with clearly identified priorities, especially as these change throughout the year in accordance with religious festivals and seasons.
- Public Value and Governance: We understand that there are real risk and concerns for faith institutions such as mosques that warrant a targeted and effective response. Sadly, sometimes, community organisations who engage with state institutions focus on managing and maintaining their relationships which can take up their resources. This means that an independent unit is required to provide an objective and honest appraisal of their risks in the current charged social and political climate is required. This matrix of risk is being developed by the National Mosque Security Panel.
Speaking about the launch of the National Mosques Security Panel, the Chair, former Met Commander Mak Chishty QPM said:
“With Islamaphobia and hate crimes against Muslim communities quickly becoming a permanent fixture across the world it is important to ensure that all Muslims are protected, feel safe and are reassured. The threat is driven by a mistaken belief that Muslims are extreme and support terrorism and this belief is given legitimacy by far right elements.
The response to this threat must therefore be strategic and long term, must include immediate protective security measures but also seek to tackle intolerance and enable genuine integration. The protective security strategy must therefore not just be confined just to buildings and local hotspots, it needs to part of wider community safety approach.
This means that all stakeholders now need to take a very honest view of the problem as only then we will be able to fix it before communities become fully broken or divided. Some of this involves installation of security features on building, personal safety advice but also it requires a change in some political policy both at the local and national level.
I have been invited to chair the Muslim Security Board on behalf of Tell Mama but my message is clear from the outset, that this is as much about changing attitudes as much as it is about changing locks.
I look forward to building a brighter, tolerant and safer environment together.”