Exclusive Interview With Sergeant Yusuf Dar

After the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting and the raids in Forest Gate relations between the Police and the Muslim community have been under the spotlight. Sajid Iqbal, Editor of The Revival, met up with Sergeant Yusuf Dar from the Greater Manchester Police who is the current Chair of the Greater Manchester Muslim Police Association, to discuss the crucial issues facing the Muslim community.

What would you say is the role of the Police? As the view of many people is that “They don’t do anything!”

Sergeant Yusuf Dar: The role of the Police is simply to protect life and property, preserve the peace, prevent and detect crime and prosecute offenders. This is done with the consensus of people.

To say “They don’t do anything” is hugely misleading. The Police deal with hundreds and thousands of calls ranging from gas leaks to Serious Incidents. It may be better to ask are we as efficient as we could be. A look at the demands on modern policing shows we cannot deliver everything that is required, for example, lost dogs, trapped animals to crime and road policing.

Do you think Muslims generally have faith in the Police?

I would say that generally the Muslims do have faith in the police but this faith is being severely tested at times. I would also acknowledge that there are sections of the Muslim community who like sections from other communities have lost faith. This is a complex matter and cannot be answered in a few sentences.

An example of the level of faith in the Police was revealed in a recent Gallup survey carried out on Muslims and non-Muslims in London. The results showed Muslims had more faith in local police, the judicial system and the national government than non-Muslims did.

Would you say the Police are against Muslims?

I wouldn’t say that the Police service is against Muslims but when you look at some issues like stop searches of Muslims or actions in Anti Terror raids, some individuals may take this is as a grand plan against Muslims. Let’s remember that the Police serve the crown or government and some of the actions may be due to outside influences.

Are the Police racist? Isn't Metropolitan Police institutionally racist?

I would not say that all the Police are racist but there may be individuals who are racist. You could also say that there are sections of institutionalised racism still in existence within the service.

The Police are not alone in this and this is a wider problem for society to face, for example, look at the recent matters arising out of Big Brother - that clearly indicates a wider problem. We cannot continue with denial as a society. I cannot comment on the Metropolitan police being a racist institute. What I will say is that the Met could claim to be the lead force in terms of some of the work that it has done on diversity.

The documentary 'The Secret Policeman' a few years ago highlighted how racist the Police is as an institution - so why should any Asian or black or Muslim individual have any faith in the police?

Because the service is ever evolving and changing to reflect our society. The Muslim community like others must take an active part in all facets of society and institutions no matter how difficult or challenging the hurdles. We have simply got to make sure that we are nor marginalised any further by opting out.

After the Jean Charles de Menezes case how can anyone have faith in the Police?

This was a complex enquiry and I have not read all the findings but looking from outwards in, it had a very bad effect on our image. I would say that if someone is not happy with any findings by all means challenge these within our democratic and legal processes. I don’t think the Muslim community was alone in questioning the process; indeed as I understand it many Police Officers were equally critical.

After the Forest Gate raid can you blame Muslims if they hate the Police?

This was another damaging incident but one cannot hate or blame the service in totality. One has to be rational and deal with matters with a cool heart and clear mind. As I said before the Muslim community was not alone in questioning aspects of the incident.

If someone feels they are mistreated by the Police what can they do? What are our rights?

There are many and it would take a long time to explain them. However you can complain about any incident involving the Police through our complaints process by complaining direct to a Police Inspector at your local station. You can take civil action by speaking to your solicitor. You can write to your councillor or MP or even the Police Authority who manage the Police service of your area. These are just some avenues open to you; it does show that there are processes in place.

Do you agree with the policy of racial and religious profiling of Asians and Muslims? Isn't the Police profiling of Asians and Muslims racism and Islamophobic?

I personally don’t agree with this profiling but the service needs to examine all its options and use the best and most suitable option. Yes, you could certainly argue that it is Islamophobic.

Do you think Muslims are too quick to criticise the Police?

Yes, the community has to look at itself and also look at better engagement by selecting good leaders that it puts forward as community leaders. We need more of the youth from both sexes to take a more active part. It is always easy to criticise but less unclear when it comes to solutions. I am not saying the Police may not be blame worthy though.

How are Muslim police officers treated in the Police force? As equals or second class?

We have made strides but these have been slow and when one looks at the promotions certainly in GMP they are not acceptable. Also at times the organisation is quick to use the tick box mentality in dealing with such issues. There are many Muslim officers whose potentials have not been realised or developed. I don’t feel the Police is alone to this end, for example look at the Media.

Would you advice Muslims to become Police Officers? Do you think it is a good career?

Most certainly, it’s challenging and will test you to the limit. There are still many barriers to break but unless we get involved these will never be broken. We need Muslims in key positions to have an impact. It’s a good career which has major highs and lows as we deal with a diverse range of issues daily. Don't forget that the Police service now includes staff who are not Police Officers and this is also available as an option.

What do you need or have to do to become a Policeman or woman?

I think you need a balanced and down to earth personality but you have to be a confident individual. Of course there are many qualities but my own view is that these must exist. You can apply and go through the selection process.

As a Policeman don't you sometimes have to spy on fellow Muslims? Isn't that one reason not to join the force?

I would disagree, if your fellow Muslims or non-Muslims break the law and you witness or know this, I would argue that you have a moral responsibility to act. I would also argue that it should not matter whether they are Muslim or not. The test is the same. Muslims are encouraged to have higher values than others.

What's your advice to Muslims regarding the Police and how we should treat them?

Treat them as the Quran says to treat all: equally and with respect. Lets not forget that the Police serve you.

Finally tell us more about the Muslim Police Association?

We are a relatively new association formed with aspirations to have a national framework to support Muslim staff and the community in any avenues where we can. We were the last of the main three religions to be formed, Christianity and Judaism being the others. We are facing testing times like our community as there are sections who clearly do not seem supportive of us from within the service AND also from outside but we will accept this challenge and Inshallah with Allah's help we will overcome this.

We would like to thank Sergeant Yusuf Dar for his time and his answers.