Respect urges Muslims to end police co-operation

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Indy Politics

Muslims in east London should withdraw co-operation with the police in the wake of last week's terror raid in which a man was shot, a Respect party activist has said.

Yvonne Ridley said the community was being "terrorised" by the Metropolitan Police and should end all contact with the force.

But a senior officer said relations on the ground were vital to ensuring difficult issues were handled in a sensitive way.

Ms Ridley, a former journalist who converted to Islam after being kidnapped by the Taliban, said: "I don't think the Muslim community should communicate with the police any more until they start showing some respect to the community.

"There are Muslim community leaders - largely self-appointed - who regularly hold meetings with the police," she said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I'm afraid these leaders are confusing access to the top brass with influence. The reality is that they have neither. What we are witnessing now is the terrorisation of one community."

At a meeting of the party last night in the area of the raid, she suggested non-co-operation "goes from asking the community copper for directions to passing the time of the day with the beat officers".

Commander Steve Allen, who heads territorial policing, said: "What is more likely to deliver effective police and community and responses to situations like this?

"Is it when we talk to each other, when we spend time trying to understand each other's perspective or is it when we call for complete disengagement?

"I'm sure your listeners will have a view on that."

He added: "Society has to trust us to make decisions based on sometimes less than perfect information.

"The best interests of the community always lies in preventing acts of terrorism, and we have to make those difficult decisions about when to act and when not to act.

"Our view and our job is always to do that job alongside and in engagement with the people for whom we work, i.e. the communities of London.

"The daily reality in London is that we are seeing falling crime, rising confidence.

"We wouldn't be seeing those things if we weren't daily engaged with the people for whom we work. "

Ms Ridley said the police should respond to terror threats "in a responsible way and stop shooting people".

Commander Allen urged Ms Ridley to hold talks with him on the subject, warning her that communities needed to be "deeply engaged" in the fight against terrorism.