02/06/17 Community Round Table Meeting with the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens


The meeting was hosted by BSWN to offer an informal platform to discuss any issues the muslim community might have post - Manchester terrorist attack with the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Sue Mounstevens. The meeting also explored wider issues in relation to community policing, and a mechanism for engagement to ensure there is open, transparent and effective way of collaborative working between the OPCC, police and the community to address the imminent threat of extremism in our society.

Statement from Sue Mountstevens:

“ Thank you for inviting me here today. Delighted to be having this conversation. It is important to me to talk to grass-roots organisations and to engage with communities in order to listen and understand any concerns you may have – that’s why I am here today. There has neither been a significant numerical increase in hate crime directly related to Manchester since the incident, nor a general spike in hate crime as a whole. There have been approximately 6 - 10 hate incidents that we have registered, most of them occurring over social media involving name-calling, and we are taking each and every incident seriously. We need to make sure we disassociate what happened in Manchester from Muslims and our Muslim community. That is why we want to engage in this conversation with the community. I also want to find a way to continue this dialogue so that I’m not only meeting you when there is an incident ”

Issues raised and discussed by delegates around the table:

- agreed that what happened in Manchester does not represent Muslims but there is a concern about increase in hate crimes,

-    that the meeting itself is a reactive response rather than a proactive one. This needs to change. There should be a mechanism that enables dialogue with the PCC at all times,

-    the community should be acknowledged and engaged with without there being an incident,

-    a lack of trust in the police can create barriers to effective work and engagement with the police. This was attributed both to perceived and historical experiences,

-    need for better sharing of data & intelligence between the police and the community about radicalisation,  those at risk and how to identify early signs of radicalisation,

-    need to train members of the community and run awareness- raising sessions to enhance community’s knowledge and understanding of radicalisation and its risks. This will enable the community to be more aware of signs of radicalisation and spot vulnerable individuals that might be susceptible to extremism,

-    it was noted that the Home Office have a group of Intervention Providers (IP) who are trained to spot radicalisation of young people and then work with the people to de-radicalise them, and this intervention is currently ongoing. In addition, majority of the radicalised individuals in South West are thought to be converts according to a member of the audience, and this could be due to their limited knowledge of Islam coupled with complex underlying issues. More engagement between IP and communities needed,

-     need to address the communication gap that exist between the police and the community in order to jointly develop better strategy for engagement,

-    encourage civic participation and social action as a way of addressing grievances,

-     vital to create safe spaces for young people to speak and debate issues/grievances they might have in constructive and democratic ways to limit alienation and potential susceptibility to extremist views,

-    important for imams to address the youth in English, to increase their engagement with religious scripture in an informed and educational way,

-    lack of a support system after leaving prison for Muslim offenders is a big issue, a lot of young people who could be de-criminalised and de-radicalised end up reoffending and returning to prison, as referenced in The Young Review ( http://www.youngreview.org.uk)

-     shift in narrative around radicalisation that places the Muslim community at the heart of the problem is needed. The community should be seen as part of the solution and extremism as part of wider societal challenge,

-    more Muslim role models needed for young people to aspire to, and help them navigate what can be a challenging phase in their lives in dealing with identity and place within society,

-    need to recognise positive contribution from the community in reporting cases of radicalisation and developing stronger working relationships,

-    recognise the positive role played by the mosques in guiding young people who are often troubled,

-    police should do more to combat hate preachers that prey on young vulnerable people on the streets/parks,

-    negative media attention by the press about the Muslim community does not help dispel myths held, but can further exacerbate deeply held prejudices leading to increased hate crimes/incidents and limiting any potential opportunity for building cohesive/integrated communities,

Meeting feedback from an attendee:

“I would also like to say that the meeting on the 2nd June was very useful and informative. I would like to see many more of these open and frank discussions between the police authorities and the community in order together to achieve together the  common good and build more trusting relationship and collaborative work between the police and all communities in Bristol and beyond.”

Next steps:

1.   BSWN to circulate notes from the meeting,

2.   Arrange a follow up meeting to explore how some of the points raised could be translated to an action points

3.  Arrange a follow up meeting with the PCC