The Metropolitan Police could be setting up help points in faith buildings such as churches and mosques, in an attempt to better engage with diverse faith communities across the capital.
That was one of the suggestions discussed at a conference organised by Faiths Forum For London, a charity which works with religious groups across the capital on social, political and business issues. The event was hosted by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe at the University of Westminster on Tuesday 23 April.
Philip Rosenberg, director of Faiths Forum for London, said that working with faith communities is an effective way for the Met Police to reach out to more people, and that establishing help points within religious centres was a way for the police “to be closer to the communities that they serve” at a time when they are “downsizing their estate.”
Other ideas included encouraging faith communities to “adopt a cop”, aimed at improving understanding between faith communities and the police, and training for faith leaders in how to respond to major incidents.
The East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets already have police information points within the mosque, with the aim of developing relationships between police officers and the predominantly Bangladeshi Muslim population there.
Philip Rosenberg said that the Met wanted to reach out to Londoners and to reflect the city’s religious diversity amongst its staff – to make the capital’s police force “look more like London”.
Another area that was discussed at the conference was the problem of gang-related crime amongst young people. Faith communities could play a role in “diverting” young people, against a backdrop of dwindling youth facilities.
The Met Police will be meeting with Faiths Forums For London three times a year to discuss and review strategies.