A problem at West Midlands Police


by Sunny
18th May, 2008 at 5:18 pm    

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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  1. marvin — on 18th May, 2008 at 5:43 pm  

    I dont see why it’s so unfortunate that Cohen used the Sufi Council and Civitas backed centre for Social Cohesion? I think your objection to Civitas is that they may contain conservative elements (well bad) and Sufi Council.. Um I’m struggling on this one.

    But apart from that it’s a very good article and I think you are absolutley right there is something wrong with WMP. I back the National Secular Society for a full public enquiry in to WMP, not just for this high profile case but WMP’s general attitude with regards to social cohesion.

  2. unitalian — on 18th May, 2008 at 8:19 pm  

    If this is just what people are aware about, what are they not? My suspicion is there is something very rotten at the heart of WMP. The trouble is, it will only surface when something truly tragic happens – and they can’t cover it up.

  3. mixtogether — on 18th May, 2008 at 8:31 pm  

    Sunny- good spot and excellent post.

    This is just the sort of thing I mentioned on Rumbold’s post that blogs are well placed to cover.

    The Centre For Social Cohesion (regardless of one’s view of their politics) published that info months ago, and because of the way everyone is conditioned to respond to that kind of report we will all probably have had a look at it and thought ‘that’s terrible, hope those things gets sorted’.

    The MSM hasn’t got the time, space and (presently) the inclination to work on the problems identified in the report point-by-point. They can highlight the PUBLISHING of the report, and some key points (usually the most grotesque ones) but that’s it, and then it’s all quiet until the next report, or launch, or ‘honour’ killing.

    That report and others like it (whatever happened to ‘A Choice By Right’?- Google it) basically provide a list of leads and partially answered questions which make perfect material for this kind of blogging.

    Tackling cohesion and human rights issues by publishing reports and then looking at the problems as a whole tends to create a sense of helplessness. Where do you even start? Let’s look to the government to sort this out…

    It’s a top-down approach.

    But say more bloggers started to take a laser-like approach and target individual issues, as you are doing here… It will quickly begin to de-stabilise a lot of the blockages in the system, especially if authority figures in each small sphere are named and shamed on the net.

    The MSM won’t do this off their own back. But you can be sure that once a couple changes are effected by bloggers, they would start to sit up and take notice in greater detail.

    There is no good reason why nick Cohen shouldn’t be referencing yours or others’ original investigative reporting in these areas.

  4. mixtogether — on 18th May, 2008 at 8:35 pm  

    Marvin,

    I guess the Sufi Council will suffer from the same legitimacy issues as all these other (un)representative councils like the MCB. Which Sufis actually asked the people on the council to represent them?

    Although I see no problem with promoting the mystical side which has long existed in Islam…

    What do the NSS have to say about West Mids police, and is it just about that particular force?

  5. inders — on 18th May, 2008 at 10:39 pm  

    All hearsay. I find it disgusting that someone could accuse a police officer of being a perpetrator. If she had named names then she’d be done for slander.

    If anyone’s got a problem with evidence they should make a complaint.

    There’s not even that many Asian police men and women.

  6. Yusuf Smith — on 19th May, 2008 at 10:40 am  

    The SMC represents nobody except Haras Rafiq and a few of his mates. The nearest thing they have to “sufis” are a few people from Hisham Kabbani’s group. It is an unrepresentative outfit that was quickly exposed as one man’s attempt to build a power base for himself.

  7. mk1 — on 19th May, 2008 at 12:21 pm  

    I wonder if Zalikha Ahmed has brought these issues to the attention of these officers’ superiors or the IPCC.

    “…..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’…….”

  8. Andrew — on 20th May, 2008 at 11:54 am  

    Something is clearly very wrong with the WMP. Perhaps we can all push for a public enquiry?

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