Faiths and Blue Lights: Understanding each other’s priorities and needs
Essex Faith Covenant, with, from left, Sikhs of Chelmsford leader Shweta
Kaur, Tariq Mahmood, vice chair of Havering Islamic Centre and Havering
Inter Faith Forum and Rabbi Warren Elf, of Southend and District Reform
Synagogue (Image by Essex Police)
Essex Police and other blue light services have met with faith and community leaders, councils and voluntary groups to work towards a greater understanding of each other’s priorities and needs.
Superintendent Naomi Edwards is our strategic lead for hate crime. She says: “We recognise that the way police officers respond to and investigate hate crimes and related offences has a dramatic effect on the public’s confidence in policing.
“Most importantly, it has a dramatic effect on the victim, their family and friends.
“I want to reassure people in all our communities that Essex Police has zero tolerance for any form of hate crime and related offences. It is not OK for people to be targeted or abused for who they are or what they believe.
“We’ve solved more hate crimes in the first nine months of this year than in the same period last year and offences are down, too.
“We take all reports extremely seriously and victims should have absolute confidence to come forward to report them to us. No-one should live in fear.
“If you feel you need support to do so, you can visit one of our Hate Incident Reporting Centres based around the county. We also have specially-trained Hate Crime Ambassadors to support victims.”
The Faiths and Blue Lights Conference at Chelmsford Cathedral on Wednesday, 18 October was organised by the Essex Faith Covenant, which brings faith communities and public services together in mutual co-operation on a range of social issues common to both.
It aimed to encourage effective dialogue and understanding between faith communities and the emergency services in Essex and encourage closer working relationships.
Superintendent Naomi Edwards said, “Today has been a great opportunity for Essex Police and our blue light colleagues to build and renew relationships with various faith groups so we can understand each other’s priorities and needs.”
The Rev Canon Ivor Moody, of Chelmsford Cathedral, is chair of the Essex Faith Covenant. He says: “We want to represent faith communities to the emergency services, councils and other agencies in Essex so they know what is happening on the ground in these various communities and the fantastic work they do.
“And we want them to realise that those in authority, particularly the emergency services, are there for them. Some faith and minority communities don’t have a long history of interacting with police and the emergency services and so the aim of the conference was to build links between these two areas.
“We wanted to help make it clear that the police, fire and ambulance services are very much concerned with the full impact of and importance of issues such as race hate crime and multi-faith working.”
Among those attending the conference was Rabbi Warren Elf, of Southend and District Reform Synagogue.
He says it’s important for faith communities to link in with emergency services to focus on hate crime, working together and trying to understand it.
He adds: “We’re looking at resilience and I think faith communities need to be able to contribute to resilience when there are crises and emergencies. Some faith communities can provide people to be trained to help respond and help in whatever way the emergency services or local authorities feels is necessary in a crisis.”
Sikhs of Chelmsford leader Shweta Kaur says cultural differences mean some members of her community hesitate to approach the police and other emergency services and she wants to help to bridge the gap.
“I want to be a friendly face and reassure people that the emergency services are there to help them.
“One of the principles of the Sikh faith is to engage with the community we live in. It’s very important we work together for the betterment of society overall, not just our community.
“And, if our children want to work in the emergency services, the parents shouldn’t be daunted and wonder whether the service will accept diverse cultures.”
Tariq Mahmood, vice chair of Havering Islamic Centre and Havering Inter Faith Forum, says it’s important to be inclusive. “It’s good to collaborate on issues which affect society in this country and help to combat differences between people, showing we can come together on common issues.
“It’s very important to have good relationships with the emergency services and I’m pleased the conference was interested in approaching people of my faith, how to deal with them and what to expect.
“People are well informed and I’m pleasantly surprised by that. The police make us feel safe. They want to meet us and they visit congregations and listen to the issues the attendees have.
“The relationship’s very important. Knowing how to contact the community policing teams is important and we need to make sure that’s publicised properly.”
For more information about hate crime and various ways to report incidents to us, visit the Hate Crime information pages.