Sharia law lessons for police
By Jimmy Burns and Alex Barker
February 28 2008
The Financial Times
British "bobbies" will be taught about the Koran and Sharia law under
secret plans agreed by police chiefs to ensure every officer is
prepared to play a counter-terrorism role, the Financial Times has
The initiative to add faith and cultural lessons to training for
officers serving communities as different as Bradford and Banbury
forms part of a new policing strategy to prevent violent extremism.
Measures include extending Operation Delphinus - piloted in London to
make counter-terrorism a central objective of policing at local
level - across the nation from spring next year, according to the
strategy paper seen by the FT.
Other proposals include sharing intelligence with local authorities
and schools, profiling Muslim communities and "vulnerable"
individuals, increased police intervention in prisons, and assigning
liaison officers to the families of terrorists. Some £240m has been
set aside for police counterterrorism work over the next three years.
The proposals' focus on local communities and local government is
likely to be seen as one of the most controversial aspects of the
shake-up of policing undertaken to tackle the home-grown terrorist
threat. Several local authorities have already resisted initiatives
to engage and "understand" the Muslim community because they believe
the measures are either irrelevant or pose a threat to "community
cohesion". This suggests some local officials are concerned about
teachers and other public servants becoming the eyes and ears of
"This presents a dilemma for the police service," the document
states. "We must be resolute in the proposition that doing 'community
cohesion' is not the same thing as 'preventing violent extremism'."
Research cited in the document shows that officers are some of the
last people members of the Muslim community will turn to if they
harbour concerns about an individual. The strategy says the police
service "has a long way to go in building a relationship of trust
around these issues". The plan is to use existing neighbourhood
policing efforts as the bedrock for counter-terrorist work that takes
a "bespoke" approach to Muslim communities. Intelligence gathered
will help to build "comprehensive neighbourhood profiles", including
a "vulnerability index", in order to allocate resources more
A separate initiative will target those seen as vulnerable to
extremist messages. By gathering data from schools, prisons and
community groups, it will identify individuals and intervene to stop
them turning to terrorism.
To aid discussion of contentious issues with young Muslims, priority
areas will introduce Operation Nicole - a group exercise involving
Muslims role-playing as counter-terrorist police.
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