From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, with thanks to Teri:
London, 30 November 2004 (RFE/RL) — More Muslim police officers are on the streets in Britain and greater efforts are being made to improve relations between the police and the general Islamic population.
Tim Mahony, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said that “we’re clear that we’re going in the right direction, but we’re not content that enough has been done to bring the police and Muslim communities better together. There are a lot of tensions around terrorism, for example, and the way in which police powers are interpreted or perhaps misinterpreted.”
Efforts to bring the Muslim community and police closer together were spurred by increasing complaints that Muslims were being targeted by police, and that they were the victims of frequent “stop and search” actions merely on the basis of their appearance.
The hope was that more Muslim police officers and regular dialogue between the police and Muslim groups would help to dispel some of the tensions.
Muslim leaders are cautiously optimistic.
“It’s a beginning,” said Abdulrahman Jaffar, a representative of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a Muslim group that holds regular discussions with the police. “One cannot say we’ve reached what is our desired result yet. I think we still have a long way to go. But, I think there are people on both sides who are willing to talk, and who are willing to listen, and who have a genuine intention of doing something at that level. So it is positive.”