I hope you are keeping well and had a good Easter.
You may be aware, Spring Harvest decided to go online with YouTube this week. Here is a link to a short teaching video entitled ‘How Churches and the Police Can Work Together’ which summarises ‘Faith and Police Together’ and how churches can work with and support their local police: https://youtu.be/0a_fjyfpplE
I really do believe that, post lockdown as we adjust, Faith and Police Together can be a key part of the ‘new normal’. Here in Norfolk we now have a dedicated officer tasked with engaging with all faith communities and is compiling a comprehensive contacts list and building some good relationships with churches. He has been impressed and surprised by the amount of great work that the churches are doing, and there is a real desire from our Citizens in Policing Team to ensure that the contacts they are making are not lost, and a desire to partner with churches and faith groups post Covid.
A few prayer pointers for this time. Please pray for:-
Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers.
May God keep you well.
Paul Blakey MBE, one of the founders and steering group member of #FaithAndPoliceTogether, is one of the speakers at a symposium 'The Role of Faith in Healing Divided Communities' on Saturday 28th March 2020 at Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London.
The aim of the symposium is to open a discourse between faith and community groups and to develop a way forward in ensuring positive outcomes for our communities. Speakers and participants will include representatives from different faiths as well as community organisations and other stakeholders.
For more information visit www.bcsinterfaith.com
To book visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/faith-united-2020-tickets-79502438935
A recent BBC report - see here - highlights the way Newquay in Cornwall has changed from a hardcore party resort to one which is drastically changed. The report talks about Police Inspector David Meredith taking forthright and drastic action working with around 20 partner agencies including the Christian led Street Pastors and Pirans Angels. The work of Pirans Angels and the change in the night-time culture of Newquay will be featured on BBC1's SpotLight programme.
The first #FaithAndPoliceTogether conversation event was held in Norfolk where the Chief Constable, Simon Bailey, called on faith groups across Norwich to join together with the Police to help to tackle issues such as addiction, homelessness and child criminal exploitation. Read more in the Network Norfolk article.
Speaking at a meeting of around 50 leaders from different faiths across Norwich on Tuesday (November 26), he said: “For me today is around understanding and challenging ourselves and our organisations and asking ‘is there a way we can come together to tackle what I perceive to be some of the greatest challenges we face as a city and county’. At the forefront of that will be how we can support some of the most vulnerable and needy people in our communities.
“This is about the chance to make a fundamental difference to a group of people who I believe we all care passionately about, because their lives should mean something.
“If we can start working together for a common cause in one or two small things, then who knows where we might be able to take this initiative,” he said.
“It is a conversation about coming up with a series of shared objectives, shared thoughts, shared ideas. I am not looking for miracles but for small steps and ways in which we might come to work together. Across the whole of Norfolk, and in Norwich in particular, I know there are some incredibly passionate, compassionate and highly motivated and driven individuals and organisations.”
Speaking at the first meeting of Faith and Police Together, at Soul Church in Norwich, the Chief Constable said: “There is a significant challenge for the city around homelessness. Whenever you go into the city you see people who, quite clearly, are living in the most awful conditions, who are probably suffering from both poor mental health and poor physical health.
“That issue is inextricably linked to addiction. The price of heroin and cocaine has never been as cheap and its purity has never been as high. An 80% pure bag of cocaine can be bought for £10. We talk about there being 2,000 addicts in the county – I think we can conservatively double that and the numbers are growing. Far too many people are becoming dependant on those drugs and lead chaotic lives and children are growing up amongst that chaos.
“At the heart of child criminal exploitation are a group of terribly vulnerable children. They are being exploited in sexual exploitation, being trafficked or be it in terms of the transportation of drugs into the county, sometimes children aged only 8 or 9. It is impacting every town and city in the country and Norwich is no exception.
“Across Norfolk, you are more likely to be the victim of a serious sexual offence than to have your house burgled – and that should worry us,” said the Chief.
Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, Lady Philippa Dannatt, told the meeting: “I think this is a wonderful initiative. These issues affect us all and they are happening here in our city under our noses.
“Together we will make a difference and when we ask ‘what can I do?’ there is one thing that comes to mind. We are all here because we have faith and we can all pray for our Police force – they really need it as they are at the forefront of some of the most harrowing situations that anyone could ever meet. Let’s build relationships, let’s build ideas let’s work together but let us also take away a commitment to pray for our Police who do so much to keep us safe.”
Insp Mike Austin then spoke about the night-time economy, the challenges faced and the potential opportunities for a closer working relationship – especially in Norwich on Friday and Saturday nights.
Maria Pratt from St Martin’s Housing Trust spoke about the issue of homelessness and the success of the inter-agency Pathways initiative in helping to produce positive outcomes for many people. She also spoke about the need for the many groups who provide food and support in this area of concern to co-ordinate their work more closely to improve outcomes for the homeless.
Sally Hughes, Public Health Manager from Norfolk County Council, gave some stark statistics to the audience, including an estimated 4,400 drug users in the county, 9,200 dependant drinkers, 6,146 hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions and 51 deaths from drug use per annum.
Det Insp Dave McCormack and Daniel Wilson from Children’s Service then explained how Child Criminal Exploitation was linked to County Lines where dealers from London send runners, who are often vulnerable young people, on trains to cities such as Norwich to sell heroin, crack and cocaine to anyone who will buy it.
The meeting was arranged by Norfolk Police Inspector Marie Reavey who has spent the last year leading a national initiative, called Faith and Police Together, aimed at encouraging better partnership working between the Police and faith communities.
Marie said: “The result is a tookit with useful information and practical guidance around the areas of addiction, youth violence and loneliness. It includes many organisations, ideas and projects that can inspire and support faith communities to set up a project in partnership with the police and other statutory agencies.
Click here to download the Fatih Communities Guide to Engaging with Police Toolkit
Outside the meeting, Marie, who is also the National Chair of the Christian Police Association, said: “Please pray that Norwich would become a flagship example, the quick easy wins that make a difference will be identified and longer term solutions and partnerships will be forged.
Opportunity was then given for faith leaders to discuss with Police representatives the issues, their existing work and things that could be done to make a real difference.
At the end the Chief Constable made a commitment for Insp Reavey to continue working on the project and to reconvene a follow-up meeting in March to explore the next steps.
Pictured Chief Constable Simon Bailey addresses faith leaders at Soul Church in Norwich and faith leaders and Police discuss working together.
Paul Blakey MBE and Acting Inspector Marie Reavey were featured on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme on 1st December as part of a feature on #FaithAndPoliceTogether - listen at 16:50:
#FaithAndPoliceTogether launch 'Faith Communities Guide to Working with Police' (download here)
It has been over twelve months since I started work on the Faith and Police Together (FnP) project at the end of September 2018. Over the last 12 months I have spoken with, reviewed and visited many organisations across the country that are helping to tackle the key FnP priorities of Addiction, Youth Violence and Loneliness. I have been given the privilege of having a further 12 months secondment to continue this work, promote and embed Faith and Police Together, for which I am very thankful to my Chief Constable Mr Bailey.
Today I am pleased to release the culmination of the last years work “The faith Communities Guide to Engaging with Police”. This guide is a PDF document and has very useful information about ways in which Faith communities can engage with and support the local police with practical guidance around the areas of addiction, youth violence and loneliness and more. It is not an exhaustive list but includes many organisations, ideas and projects that can inspire and support faith communities to set up a project in partnership with the police and other statutory agencies.
I do hope you will find it informative and useful. Please do circulate it far and wide amongst your contact.
Thank you to everyone who has supported and contributed to this work over the last year. I very much appreciate it and look forward to working with you all over the coming 12 months.