There is a "dearth" of high-ranking Muslim police officers and they are "largely absent" from specialist units like counter-terrorism, a report said today.
Progress in diversity in forces is also too slow and urgent changes are needed to rectify the situation, the survey says.
The study carried out by the National Association of Muslim Police (Namp) and Demos found that only 27 Muslim officers worked in counter-terrorism out of a UK total of 2,374.
There are also fewer officers overall in high ranks, with 30 Muslims out of the 4,630 officers holding chief inspector and inspector ranks, or 0.65%.
Muslims make up 3.3% of the UK population, but only 0.75% of the police service, NAMP says.
The report says: "Muslim officers are primarily concentrated in lower ranks, mainly constable.
"This is to be expected given that the majority of all officers are employed at this rank too. However, the (figures)...demonstrate...the relative dearth of Muslim officers in the senior ranks."
NAMP said: "In specialist departments Muslim officers are largely absent."
Its report adds that having more Muslim counter-terrorism officers could prove an "invaluable head start" in the battle against extremists.
"The obvious point is the lack of Muslim officers involved in countering terrorism, given the threat is at present time from violent extremist Islamist groups linked to al Qaida," the document says.
"The terror threat is not limited to al Qaida, or is it only Muslims that are capable of understanding Islamist terrorist activity.
"However, having officers with a cultural, religious or linguistic understanding of the individuals most likely to be involved in these groups could be an invaluable head start. This is a matter of priority."
Half of the 51 UK forces took part in the survey.
Namp was formed in July 2007 to be the UK's first national representative body of Muslim Police Officers.
Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Steve Otter, who speaks on race and diversity for the Association of Chief Police Officers, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme some officers "perhaps do not have the confidence to move forward".
"The work we are doing across the police service is very much about working with our minority officers, not just Muslim but across the board, to increase their confidence and help them understand how to move forward into specialist posts," he said.
He went on: "We have to be very careful that we are not trying to stereotypically force people: just because you are a Muslim you are going into counter-terrorism.
"Equally we have to listen to the experience of the individual officers about what are the barriers for you to go if that's where you want to go and you have the skills."
He said he thought religion should in future be recorded as part of force data.Reuse content