Relations between the police
163. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) expressed
particular concern over police accountability. They pointed to
a survey they had conducted which suggested that 39% felt there
would be no benefit in complaining to the police and noted that
the rise in stops and searches of Asians was not accompanied by
a commensurate rise in complaints to the Independent Police Complaints
Nick Hardwick, Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission,
told us that Asians generally had the least confidence in the
complaints system and least confidence that if they did complain,
the matter they complained about would be dealt with effectively
164. The Hindu Forum said that concerns were growing
in the Hindu community that security issues involving them were
not treated as seriously as those involving other communities.
Both ACPO and the Metropolitan Police told us about their contacts
with the Hindu and other communities, and Detective Superintendent
Tucker denied that security issues affecting the Hindu community
were treated less seriously than those involving Muslims: he did
acknowledge that in one high-profile case the police could have
looked more broadly at the impact on the community as a whole.
165. Submissions from the Association of Chief Police
Officers (ACPO), the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police
Diversity Directorate and the Crown Prosecution Service listed
a number of ways in which these various bodies were seeking to
engage with minority communities, particularly Muslims.
Burnley Borough Council and the Chief Superintendent of the Pennine
Division of Lancashire Constabulary told us in a joint submission
of their efforts to ensure that police operations contributed
to community relations.
The Chief Superintendent of Luton also spoke about the efforts
his force made to engage with minority communities, both on a
regular basis and in the course of an anti-terrorist operationthese
efforts were recognised and appreciated by the local Muslim community.
Similarly, the Muslim Council of Britain acknowledged that the
Metropolitan Police was making efforts to engage with the Muslim
Community. The Chair of the MCB's Legal Affairs Committee told
"As I say, the police have a hard time and we
recognise that. I think that the Met Police deserve a mention.
You have a Met Police Authority which is holding to account its
police officers and you have a police force that has set up a
Muslim Safety Forum that meets regularly with Muslim groups.
There are issues about who is on there and the accountability
stuff but I think those are issues of detail. The main thing
is that you have senior members of the Met Police meeting with
Muslim communities and coming along to meetings. [
is also working very hard on recruitment and retention, so I think
there are good examples of the Met Police doing some good work
but there is clearly more that can be done."
166. The Minister of State for Community Safety,
Crime Reduction, Policing and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office,
Hazel Blears MP, mentioned the four strands of the Government's
counter-terrorism strategy: prevent, pursuit, prepare and protect.
ACPO argued that an opportunity had been missed by not adding
'communities' to the list. Chief Constable Matthew Baggott, Second
Vice-President of ACPO and Lead on Race and Diversity, told us
that the police had nonetheless made significant progress in deploying
officers in vulnerable communities to build relationships and
confidence. He added:
"I think that is an incredibly important part
of any terrorist strategy because it is about the hearts and minds
of people; it is about accessibility, it is about a whole range
of confidence building issues that simply have to be the bedrock
of what is built upon it."
167. When asked if she believed that Government attempts
to reassure the Muslim community were successful, the Minister
of State said:
"Dealing with the terrorist threat and the fact
that at the moment the threat is most likely to come from those
people associated with an extreme form of Islam, or falsely hiding
behind Islam, if you like, in terms of justifying their activities,
inevitably means that some of our counter-terrorist powers will
be disproportionately experienced by people in the Muslim community.
That is the reality of the situation, we should acknowledge that
reality and then try to have as open, as honest and as transparent
a debate with the community as we can. There is no getting away
from the fact that if you are trying to counter the threat, because
the threat at the moment is in a particular place, then your activity
is going to be targeted in that way. "
168. These remarks were criticised by some in the
Muslim community as "demonising and alienating" the
community and as "thoroughly unhelpful" and by the National
Black Police Association, which described them as "intemperate
The Minister responded to the Muslim Council with assurances that
the counter terrorism powers were aimed at terrorists, whatever
their background, not at any community, religion or ethnic group.'
She added that stop and search powers would not be disproportionately
used against members of any particular community.
169. There is no doubt that the authorities face
a real challenge in acting against terrorist suspects from within
particular communities, without been seen as targetingor stigmatisingthat
community. We do not believe that the Government has yet found
an answer to this question, as the reaction to the Minister's
comments illustrates. More needs to be done to reach agreement
both on tactics and strategy and the way in which these are to