October 2023 Report

Statement From the Brent Multi-faith Forum Concerning the Violence Perpetrated in Israel and Gaza

 

We are aware that the trauma of the horrific violence of the last few days will be felt by innocent people in the Middle East region for generations to come. We are aware, too, that there are many people living in the London Borough of Brent who will be mourning the loss of family members, friends, and colleagues. We deplore all forms of violence and find any rejoicing at the suffering of the Other to be abhorrent.

We understand that this enduring and terrible conflict is deeply complex and embedded in historical trauma and humiliation occurring to both sides. However the real suffering and pain must feel in a group’s narrative, cycles of abuse and violence must be ended. If not, committing hateful acts of murder, injury, hostage-taking and a myriad forms of discrimination will only result in perpetuating more of the same.

We hold that the root of all faith / no faith must consist of the safeguarding of all life through the exercise of kindness, compassion and love. We support those of all faiths / no faith who are engaged in the struggle for peaceful dialogue, cooperation, conciliation and the equitable sharing of precious resources in the Middle East.

We are deeply committed to the safety and welfare of those of all faiths / no faith in Brent. There is no excuse for antisemitism, Islamophobia or any other hate crime. Exacerbating communal tensions will not be tolerated. We stand with the Metropolitan Police and Brent Council in urging the immediate reporting of any threatening behaviours.

In these especially dark times, we must hope for hope together.

                                                                   Frank Dabba Smith                          Mustafa Field                           Danny Maher

Brent Multi Faith Forum Calendar

We are delighted to introduce the BMFF ‘Faith-Events Calendar’ for the upcoming year, a sacred festival journey that promises to renew our spiritual connections, foster bonds within and between communities, and provide opportunities for growth, reflection, and worship.

If you have an event or activity you’d like to propose for inclusion on the calendar, please reach out to our team so that we can help spread the word.

In a world where life can get busy and distractions abound, our Faith-Events Calendar is a valuable tool to help us prioritize our faith and community connections. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events and growing together as residents of Brent.

Download Calendar 

Gifts for the Soul

Some words are like stones, the only cause harm. I prefer jewels to emerge from my mouth; jewels of wisdom; jewels of peace; jewels of gentleness. Such jewels enrich the soul. I choose to speak powerful words that make the positive grow.

The Brahma Kumaris

Celebrating Community: Faith, Service & Global Harmony, UK & Europe
Brent Multi Faith Forum members were invited to attend a community celebration.
 
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’ – hosted an inspiring community event on Wednesday 24 May 2023 in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and esteemed guests from around the UK.
 
The event brought together more than 1,400 guests, friends and well-wishers to appreciate their support and to introduce them to Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The programme explored the core values of personal faith, community service and global harmony through live performances, videos and presentations by eminent speakers from around the world.
 
 
Read more here

New Met for London Engagement Event

Photos courtesy of Frank Dabba Smith

BMFF Participates in ‘A New Met for London’ Event

On the evening of 29th August at Brent Civic Centre, the Metropolitan Police presented plans for ‘New Met in London’ in addressing needs for positive changes within the organization as well as building trust with the public. Members of the Brent Multifaith Forum, led by Rabbi Dr Frank Dabba Smith, collaborated with Inspector Yu Zhang in planning, facilitating and evaluating the programme.

Speaking to some two-hundred people attending were Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, Northwest Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Dan Knowles and Detective Superintendent Will Lexton-Jones. After their presentations, small groups of attendees discussed four key topics plus principles and values:

Engagement and Partnership

How can engagement be improved to enable police and partners to understand the crime concerns of the community and respond accordingly.

What is your highest crime concern, how can we all work in partnership to prevent that crime.

What can be done to promote kindness, reduce antisocial behaviours and improve quality of life?

VAWG (safety for women and girls)

How can we encourage everyone to challenge inappropriate behaviour towards women and girls? Especially challenging friends, family and colleagues.

What can we do better to ensure the safety of women and girls, both in public and private?

SYV (safety for young people)

The pressure young people face today are enormous. What could we do together to help ensure the development and safety of our young people?
What can we do better to ensure safety for our young people?

Trust and Confidence Plus Supporting Victims

How can the police best inspire trust and confidence?
How can the police do better in order to provide a consistent, compassionate service to victims throughout?
How can we all work together to enable the police to be more precise in their Use of Force and Stop and Search.

Policing Principles and Values

The following are the new list of policing principles and values. What do they mean to you and what would you expect from the police in respect of each principle or value?

Principles

Communities-first

Frontline-focused

Inclusive

Collaborative

Precise

Values

Respect

Integrity

Empathy

Courage

Accountable

During the summaries and the round of final questions, it was clear that senior leaders were listening with care and wanting to improve the delivery of services in ways taking into account the deeply critical reports concerning the conduct of officers and structural inadequacies. In the coming months, more discussions and dialogue will take place across London and include sessions in different areas of Brent. The Brent Multifaith Forum will continue to be involved for the sake of building mutual understanding and more positive relationships between the police and different faith communities.

Faith Communities & the Climate Emergency

Faith communities see the care and protection of the environment and their practice of faith as inseparable. Climate action is core to their faith teachings and moral principles. This is why we believe that working closely with faith communities to tackle the climate emergency is essential. Using the appropriate language, terminology and faith narratives can help achieve wider reach and make lasting behaviour change through individual actions and responsibility.

Read more here

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Printable Poster

ECO Peace Delegation Visit

Photos courtesy of Frank Dabba Smith
Photo courtesy of Alex Sturrock

On Thursday, 21st September, the Jordanian Director of EcoPeace-Middle East, Ms Yana Abu Taleb, was welcomed by members of Brent Council, faith leaders and residents to the Civic Centre. Yana’s visit to the UK was arranged by Rabbi Dr Frank Dabba Smith, Co-chair of the Brent Multi-faith Forum, who liaised closely with Nadia Khan (Brent Climate Partnerships Manager) and Aman Jaswal (Brent Community Engagement Officer).


At this well-attended seminar, attendees learned about efforts in both Brent and in the Middle East to address the crisis of climate-change. During this valuable exchange of knowledge, potential areas of cooperation were discussed such as a sister-river project –both the Jordan and Brent rivers are much diminished—involving internships and exchanges for youth.


By way of background, EcoPeace-Middle East is an internationally renowned organization that brings together Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis promoting cooperative efforts to protect and to enhance their shared environmental heritage. In so doing, they seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in their region. EcoPeace has offices in Amman, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.


People involved in this mission practice Christianity, Islam or Judaism; men and women who celebrate their differences as well as their similarities. All look to their faith as a source for instilling awe and reverence for nature, as well as for their fellow human beings, regardless of faith—or no faith, or their national background. People of no explicit religious faith find common cause and friendship because the best of what are routinely considered to be solely secular values—humanitarianism and reason—are also respected by their explicitly religious colleagues.

EcoPeace engages in both grassroots projects and top-down advocacy. The twenty-five year old ‘Good Water Neighbours’ (GWN) project is a leading example of cross-border cooperation between twenty-five communities and unites people in the search for solutions to the problems of sharing water and restoring the terribly damaged Jordan River and Dead Sea ecosystems. Municipal officials and youth work together on a cross-border basis to develop educational Eco-Parks, to recycle gray water and to collect rainwater and to solve critical pollution problems. Despite the blacklisting that occurs on all sides of the conflicts, those involved remain committed to cooperation and an ever-growing list of practical ambitions are achieved. GWN is dependent on contributions from a variety of sources including overseas development agencies.

Given the present acute water shortages and climate instability in the Middle East –as well as the increased tensions caused by the ultra-right-wing regime in Israel– EcoPeace’s focus continues to be regional water security and trying to engage relevant parties through shared self-interest. This is the rationale behind the Water-Energy Nexus project adopted by Jordan and Israel and financed largely by Emirati investors. Other smaller-scale efforts include climate-smart agriculture and innovative water recycling projects where Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli colleagues are cooperating. These humanitarian efforts continue at a time of increasingly acute vulnerability for Palestinians plus heightened potential for instability in both Israel and Jordan.

–Rabbi Dr Frank Dabba Smith

IOPC calls for review of police strip search powers following Child Q investigation

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is calling for a substantial review of policing powers under the laws relating to the strip searches of children, to improve safeguarding and prioritise the welfare of minors.

It’s one of a series of learning recommendations we’re making to the Home Office, National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing (COP) to review and make changes to national guidance, policy and training relating to searches involving the exposure of intimate body parts.

The recommendations follow independent investigations into multiple incidents where children have been strip searched by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), including the search involving the exposure of intimate body parts of a 15-year-old Black girl – known as Child Q – at a school in Hackney, north-east London in 2020.

The investigation into the ‘strip search’ of Child Q, which began in May 2021 after the MPS referred complaints to us made on behalf of the child and the school, was recently completed. We can now confirm that four MPS officers will be facing disciplinary proceedings for their actions and conduct during the incident.

The search of Child Q occurred on 3 December 2020 after police were called to the school following suspicions by staff that Child Q was in possession of cannabis. This followed a search by staff of her bag and outer clothing where no drugs were found.

The child was subject to a search involving the removal of clothing by two female officers under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, while two male officers and school staff remained outside the room where the search took place. No drugs were found during the search.

Our investigation looked into whether the grounds for the search and the conduct of officers complied with relevant local and national policies, procedures, guidance and legislation.

We also investigated whether officers treated Child Q differently because of her race and sex, and the officers’ communication with school staff during and after the incident.

Following the conclusion of our investigation, we determined that three MPS officers should face a gross misconduct hearing for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour relating to duties and responsibilities, conduct, and equality and diversity.

Some of the allegations the three police constables face are that:

• the decision to undertake the search was inappropriate
• there was no consultation with a supervisor to obtain authorisation before carrying out the search
• there was no appropriate adult present during the search
• Child Q was discriminated against by officers because of her race and sex

 

A fourth officer, a police constable will face a disciplinary meeting relating to there being no appropriate adult present during the search. They will also undergo the reflective practice review process to consider further learning opportunities.

We have recommended that the MPS consider sending formal letters of apology to Child Q and her mother.

IOPC director Steve Noonan said: “The ‘strip search’ of Child Q, a 15-year-old girl, at her school in Hackney caused widespread concern. We have investigated the circumstances surrounding how this child was treated that day as fully as possible.

“We’ve found that four officers involved in the incident should face disciplinary proceedings for the parts they played. Ultimately it will be for that disciplinary panel to decide whether the allegations against them are proven. We will now be liaising with the Met Police around disciplinary proceedings. We’ve kept Child Q’s representatives and the officers involved updated throughout our investigation.

“Since this incident came to our attention, we have investigated four other incidents following referrals from the Met where children were strip searched in custody.

“Any person subject to a search involving the exposure of intimate body parts is in a vulnerable position and they are entitled to be treated with respect and courtesy. While strip searches can be necessary for the safety of both the subjects and officers, it’s important that it’s only carried out when absolutely essential, particularly when used on children.

“As a result of our investigations, we have identified a series of recommendations that we believe are pivotal to make effective changes to legislation and improve national guidance and training for officers to ensure the safety and welfare of children are prioritised when subject to searches involving the exposure of intimate body parts.

“One of the areas of learning we’ve identified is around ensuring that officers across England and Wales understand their duties and responsibilities regarding the role of an appropriate adult during a strip search.”

These recommendations follow learning recommendations we previously issued to the Met Police last year while our investigations were ongoing. We also held a roundtable meeting earlier this year with relevant policing bodies and key stakeholders concerning strip searches of children to discuss how organisations need to work together ensuring the wellbeing and safeguarding needs of children are met.

We have begun consulting with relevant policing bodies and the Home Office on our latest national recommendations on the use of searches involving the exposure of intimate body parts and these will be published in due course.

 

Our national recommendation calling for a substantial review of policing powers relating to the strip searches of children can be found here. Further national learning recommendations will be issued on our website in due course, following consultation with relevant policing bodies. 

https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/our-work/learning/national-recommendation-home-office-september-2023

The IOPC has investigated a total of five cases involving the strip search of children following referrals by the MPS. All but one of the investigations has now concluded. A brief summary of the four other investigations:

• An incident where a 15-year-old girl was arrested and detained on suspicion of knifepoint robbery and then transported to custody where they were subject to a wand search and outer clothing search at Walworth Police station in December 2020. While in custody, a sharpened wooden item fell from her clothing. The child subsequently handed over a Stanley knife and was then subject to a strip search in custody. We found the strip search was carried out in line with policy and procedures. However we found a police sergeant should face a misconduct meeting for breaching the standards of professional behaviour of duties and responsibilities, including allegations they failed to sufficiently supervise the wand or physical search carried out by another officer. Three other officers will also undergo the reflective practice review process relating to issues identified around the supervision of the girl in custody and the initial wand search. 

• The strip search of a child in custody by MPS officers in 2022 where there were concerns about the suitability of the appropriate adult given her understanding of English and where no interpreter was sought. We found a custody sergeant should face a misconduct meeting for breaches of the standards of professional behaviour for allegations relating to their actions during the incident, including that they failed to ensure a suitable appropriate adult attended the strip search. We also found the child may have been treated less favourably due to their race. 

• The arrest and subsequent strip search of a 16-year-old boy in Ilford, east London in January 2020, which was referred to us by the MPS in June 2022. We investigated a complaint which included allegations of excessive force by police during the arrest. We found no evidence to indicate any force used was unnecessary or unreasonable and we found the strip search, although there was no appropriate adult present, was carried out in line with MPS policy and policing powers. We found no indication that any officer behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. 

• The arrest and subsequent strip search of a 16-year-old boy at Bethnal Green Police station in October 2020. Our investigation began in June 2022 following a complaint referral from the MPS and is in its final stages. At this stage there is no indication that any officers may have behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. 

For media enquiries only, please email nick.baker@policeconduct.gov.uk or phone 020 7166 5166.