This is an excerpt of a submission provided to the Home Affairs Commons Select Committee looking into Islamophobia. The paper was submitted on behalf of the National Police Chiefs Council.
This text gives an incredibly accurate picture of the obstacles put in our way by groups and individuals just to serve Muslim communities in supporting them when targeted for anti-Muslim hatred.
Under the heading of ‘Working With Partners‘ the following text highlights the provocation that we have come under because of agitators for simply doing our job.
Excerpt of Text
“Effective engagement with Muslim communities has presented some distinct challenges in recent years for a whole range of reasons including but not limited to;
— The diverse nature of Muslim communities in terms of language, culture, ethnic origins and social factors.
— The lack of a single hierarchical structure that is present in some religious groups.
— The tensions that exist in some small parts of different Muslim sectarian groups.
— The comparatively lower levels of confidence in the police from some Muslims
— That newly arrived communities will have less knowledge of our commitments to protect them from targeted abuse and are less likely to report crimes to authorities.
I believe that these factors mean that AMHC (anti-Muslim hate crime) is less likely to be reported to the police than would be the case in some other religious groups.
For these stated reasons we have prioritised efforts to improve reporting of AMHC in recent years. In around 2010-12, we began efforts to help community group(s) to replicate some of the services of the Community Security Trust, a charity that I consider to be one of the world leaders in this area and which is funded by community donations.
We had conversations with many groups and individuals who felt that, with support, they could develop such a service. Almost all of these groups could not establish a service and some found it difficult to meet our minimum expectations for a partner body.
The one group who were able to meet our standards was Tell MAMA. We have worked hard to support Tell MAMA in subsequent years and they have become one of our most trusted partners, offering an excellent service to victims. This trust and confidence led to me signing a national Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) with it’s Chief Executive, Fiyaz Mughal OBE in 2015. At my last briefing, 18 forces had done so with others in negotiation.
The challenges faced in the establishment and development of Tell MAMA have been significant and they have come under severe criticism from a small number of individuals and groups from the Muslim community and grossly offensive attacks from some racist and anti-Muslim groups. I believe some of the former comes from opposition to Tell MAMA’s human rights approach, that respects all citizens rights, regardless of the characteristic that is being attacked. This has particularly been a focus when they have stood against antisemitism, LGBT hostility and the protection of minority Muslim groups. I believe this to be a fundamental strength of Tell MAMA and their willingness to show leadership and support equality for all is one of their strengths and one of those standards that we considered to be a pre-requisite of a true partnership.
One practical example of the value of our ISA with Tell MAMA came in the days following the attempted murder at Leytonstone Tube Station in December, 2015. Within three days we had shared information with Tell MAMA and began to get a clear picture of the nature of ‘retribution’ hate crimes against Muslim victims. Early analysis showed, by way of example, that the majority of victims were females wearing a niqab or similar veils and that around a third of attacks took place on public transport. This was invaluable information of use to police and partners to inform deployment decisions.
This type of analysis of hate crimes in the aftermath of local, national and international events is an important part of our response to community tensions. We have detected spikes in attacks on Muslims after a broad range of incidents such as the tragic murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 and these ‘spikes’ have often lead to the deployment of Critical Incident Management measures by ourselves and our partners.