Nick Cohen writes this today:
Far more vulnerable people than journalists are suffering from the double standard. Earlier this year, the Centre for Social Cohesion issued a report on honour killings and beatings. South Asian and Middle Eastern women’s groups reported an increasingly widespread trend. Officials who should treat all women equally were deciding that where their community’s religious and cultural practices conflicted with the law, the law had to give way.
Zalikha Ahmed, director of the Apna Haq refuge, told the report’s researchers: ‘We don’t visit the station when certain Asian officers are on because some of them are perpetrators and one of them said that he would not arrest someone who used force on his wife.’ A worker in a women’s group in the north, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, added she had been ‘appalled’ by an Asian ‘chief inspector who had offered to help a family track a girl down’. The report’s authors noticed that women’s groups appeared to have problems with one force in particular. It was the West Midlands police.
Its unfortunate that Nick uses the Sufi Muslim Council and Civitas backed Centre for Social Cohesion to back up his examples, but he has a point about West Midlands Police. Tales of women campaigners not getting support from police officers have circulated loads of times. But its not just that.
Last year during the Vaisakhi Mela in Birmingham a mini-riot broke out between rival gangs and groups, which I blogged here. Guess what – the police completely down-played the incident and didn’t even release the name of the man who got stabbed. Read the news report here. I have spoken to journalists from the area since, who say there are links between the police and some of the local trouble-makers. When trouble flares up, they downplay it in the name of “community cohesion”. These are not just isolated incidents – there is something fundamentally wrong at West Midlands Police in my view. In losing the court action to Channel 4, I hope an inquiry is held and something is done to change the local police culture.
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