Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-46)|
Thursday 8 July 2004
Q40 Mrs Dean: Sir John, in your report
you mention the quality of the encounter as a crucial issue and
point to the limited level of training given to police officers.
What constitutes a good encounter in your view and what changes
in police training do you think there should be?
Sir John Quinton: A good encounter
is one that is courteously handled and, as you probably know,
in the Metropolitan Police we have piloted and are now introducing
Met-wide the business of giving the person who is stopped a written
record of that. A good search is one where the person goes away
understanding why it is that he or she has been searched and accepting
that that was done for a legitimate purpose.
Q41 Mrs Dean: Turning to how relationships
between religious and ethnic minority communities and the police
can be improved, how could the police ensure that arrest and detention
or stop and search powers do not worsen the relationship?
Mr Phillips: We know from surveys
that have been done in the past that the experience of being stopped
and searched is very different for a white middle-aged man than
it is for a young black man. That is to say that the police behave
differently and therefore most white middle-aged men actually
do not, as far as we understand, mind it too much. There is an
issue of scale but there is always an issue of the manner in which
it is done. Frankly, if they could apply the manners they apply
to the bank manager who is stopped to the young group of Asians
who are cruising in whatever it is they are driving, then that
might help a bit. Secondly, it would be a very good idea if police
officers could be a little more careful about who; we still have
people in turbans being stopped and treated and talked to as though
they are Muslims although they are Sikhs. You could say that that
is a perfectly understandable thing and you should not need to
have the full blown race and religion training, but being stopped
itself is a moderately traumatic experience and then being treated
as if you are something which you are manifestly not, makes the
whole experience much, much worse. The third thing I would sayand
I know I have sung this tune alreadywe need to know numbers,
particularly from different forces. One reason why we need to
know numbers is not just to beat people with a big stick but also
to identify where there is good practice. We knew that under PACE
there are some forces which have a ratio black to white of, say
eight to one, but there are other forces which have a ratio of
four to one. There are some forces where, when you do the surveys,
people's reaction to stop and search is hugely hostile; in other
forces it is not so hostile. We could learn from the experience
of where it is successful or less unsuccessful to be more precise.
Q42 Mrs Dean: Mr Khan, the Muslim Council
has met several times with the Home Secretary to discuss your
concerns. What has been the outcome of those meetings? Have you
met with other groups, such as police force representatives?
Mr Khan: Yes, we have met with
the Home Secretary with civil servants present, including the
head of the counter intelligence unit. We have also met with Home
Office officials with intelligence units there and separately.
As Mr Sofi said, we have been invited to visits to see how it
works in practice. We also last week met with the Director of
Public Prosecution, Ken McDonald QC. The impression that we have
is one of frustration, being moved from pillar to post: this is
not the CPS responsibility, it is the police force responsibility;
we go to the police force and it is not their responsibility but
a Home Office responsibility; we go to the Home Office and they
say it is really an operational matter. That is why we go straight
to the Home Secretary because he can cut through all that. He
has been a useful tool for us in cutting through some of that.
We are hoping that a robust report from you chaps will also be
an aid with regard to the concerns that we have, tongue firmly
in cheek. Mr Sofi has also had experience of the frustration in
the community because we are caught between two stools. One is
that the community is very angry and asking what we are doing
on their behalf. On the other hand, there is pressure from certain
quarters for us to bequote, unquotesensible, moderate
and all the rest of it so it is quite difficult to please both
of those audiences at the same time.
Mr Sofi: The community feels that
they are being unfairly targeted here. That has led to disillusionment.
The net effect is that our affiliates who work around the country,
do the charity work, do the community work, they have felt these
things. The community members are not now giving donations. They
feel they may be arrested, it may be something associated with
terrorism; they do not know. The evidence is not there. They are
not participating in legitimate demonstrations on the issues they
have which they might like to raise. There is disillusionment
and that is not going to have any effect on how we resolve this
issue of terrorism. We need the cooperation of the community and
the community can only participate better if that fear is gone
and the whole process of how we engage with the community is better
managed. One of the things is to do proper intelligence in a way
that it does not alienate the community and the way they manage
publicity and the way they talk to them. There are a whole lot
of issues which are coming out from the community which would
need much bigger discussion.
Q43 David Winnick: Mr Sofi and Mr Khan,
know that all groupsChristian, Jew, Hindus and Sikhshave
their extremists just like the Muslim community. You could monitor
various statements around the world, certain religious extremists
of various kinds. The question I want to put to you, if I may,
since you are before us and this seems an appropriate occasion,
do you feel the visit of this particular cleric serves any useful
purpose, certainly when it comes to community relations? He believes,
for example, that Jews should be murdered, homosexuals should
be murdered and wives should be beaten. What purpose is served
by such a person being in the United Kingdom?
Mr Khan: We are not in a position
to answer that. What I can say with regard to personal views is
that I would not believe all the hype, Mr Winnick. Quotes attributed
to this man may or may not be true.
Q44 David Winnick: It is being monitored
by the BBC monitoring unit. Could I just read you what he said,
if I may?
Mr Khan: Could I just finish?
If it was the case that these quotes were accurate the Home Secretary
has power to exclude people. He can put an exclusion order on
them which prevents non-EEC citizens from coming to the UK. Unfortunately
he cannot stop the likes of Monsieur le Penne coming to the UK.
Q45 David Winnick: He should do.
Mr Khan: Quite. He has those powers
at his disposal. The question I ask is, if there was concern that
the comments of this gentleman could lead to incitement of racial
hatred, could lead to a break up of the cohesion in our society
and could lead to public order offences, I am sure he would have
exercised his discretionas he has in the pastto
exclude this man. The fact that he has not gives me confidence
that some of the hype we are reading may or may not be true.
Q46 David Winnick: Could I just, with
the permission of the Chairman, very briefly quote what this person
has said according to the BBC monitoring unit. He said, "Oh
God, destroy the usurper Jews, the vile crusaders and infidels"
and that could include virtually anyone including Muslims who
do not accept his particular version of Islam. Then he goes on
to justify the killing of the American television engineer Nick
Berg who had his head cut off. Of course Mr Sofi and Mr Khan I
know that your dislike and distasteif these remarks are
accurateare no less than ourselves. They are disliked by
the overwhelming majority of Muslims, of that I do not have the
slightest hesitation in my mind. It just seems to me rather odd
that the Home Secretary should have allowed this person in when
he has powers, as you have correctly pointed out, to stop him.
Many MPscertainly Labour MPsare very amazed that
he was allowed in and I wonder, Mr Phillips, if you have any views
on the subject.
Mr Phillips: My views about this
kind of thing are pretty well known and pretty robust. I think
I am probably still the only public official who has said that
the Home Secretary should remove Mr Abu Hamsa and his friend Mr
Omar Bakri. I am not shy about this at all. I think the issue
of keeping people out of the country is a little bit more complicated
and difficult. I do not know enough about Mr al-Qaradawi to say
anything authoritatively about whether he should be kept out or
not, but I would endorse Sadiq's point. If we cannot keep Monsieur
le Penne out I think there would have to be a pretty specific
test to keep this gentleman out as well. One of our difficulties
I think is that the law in relation to incitementwhich
is what this would really revolve aroundas we have seen
in the last week is probably not as we would like it. If you cannot
prosecute people for burning an effigy of gypsies on a bonfire
with gypsy children and that cannot be said to be incitement against
a particular community that is right in your midst, I do not really
know if this law is actually going to be much use and I wonder
if the problem for the Home Secretary is not about his distaste
for this gentleman or whether the law would actually allow him
to do what you or I would like to happen.
Chairman: Thank you for responding so
fully to Mr Winnick who reasonably asked a question slightly outside
the brief, but a very topical point. Could I thank all the witnesses
from all three organisations for their contribution this morning?
I think it has been an extremely useful session and although this
is not, as such, part of a wider inquiry, it has been a session
of putting on the record concerns that have been expressed outside
Parliament and members of the Committee felt very strongly that
Parliament should have the opportunity to make sure these issues
were aired here. Thank you very much indeed. We will break briefly
and invite the next two witnesses to join us.