Anti-Terror Police 'Need Muslims'

November 14, 2008

Author: Dominic Casciani

Source: BBC News

Urgent action is needed to boost the number of Muslim officers in counter-terrorism units, the National Association of Muslim Police has said.

A survey carried out by the association and think tank Demos suggests Muslims remain under-represented in the police. Half of the 51 UK forces took part.

There are 27 Muslim counter-terrorism officers out of a total of 2,300, and few officers overall in high ranks.

The association said progress on diversity was "painfully slow".

The National Association Muslim Police (Namp) is one of a number of bodies operating among constabularies to represent officers from minority backgrounds.

Formed in 2007, it has support from many police chiefs, partly because of the need to encourage Muslims into the service.

But the association's comments on the rate of progress on diversity come a decade after the Stephen Lawrence report accused the Metropolitan Police of institutional racism.

According to the figures compiled by Namp and Demos, 0.6% of all police officers are Muslim.

In contrast, the 2001 census found that approximately 3% of the UK population was Muslim - a figure that is widely accepted to have since grown.

Specialist roles

The survey found similar results when it looked at progression through the ranks or into specialist areas.

In total, 27 of the 2,348 counter-terrorism and special branch officers identified in the survey were Muslim, equivalent to 1.1% of those captured by the survey.

"Muslim officers are primarily concentrated in lower ranks, mainly constable," the report said.

"This is to be expected given that the majority of all officers are employed at this rank too. However, the [figures] do demonstrateÂ... the relative dearth of Muslim officers in the senior ranks.

"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-Qaeda.