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.
#FaithAndPoliceTogether Conference – update by Project Lead – Marie Reavey (July 2019):
19th June saw the #FaithAndPoliceTogether conference take place at the College of Policing. The day was a great success and challenged delegates to consider how they engage with their local faith communities. 91 delegates attended from across the country with a wide range of ranks and roles within policing represented. The aim of the day was to encourage police to routinely engage with the faith communities, not just when emergency disaster relief situations occur; and to help broaden thinking about the potential for faith communities to contribute towards social cohesion. The conference Highlighted the power and potential social capital within Faith communities in helping to reduce policing demand through prevention, intervention and problem solving.
The conference was opened by CPA President Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Paul Netherton, who urged everyone not to be afraid of political correctness and to seek out faith communities to help policing priorities. Paul also reminded delegates about the power of a cup of tea and a biscuit! Paul was followed by DCC Nav Malik who shared his experiences as a Muslim officer and encouraged those of faith to go to their places of worship in uniform. He also reminded us of the opportunities for engagement and how this helps to build legitimacy. Some of the challenges, including intrafaith division were also discussed.
We had some inspirational speakers giving a flavour of some of what our faith communities can do to assist the police. Debra Green OBE from Redeeming Our Communities talked about the impact of mentoring, youth clubs, and befriending schemes, Rev Clyde Thomas shared his story of how the church had supported him when he came out of prison and had nowhere else to go and helped him from a life of homelessness, addiction and crime to Director of Hope Centre Ministries UK and senior pastor at Victory Church, Cwmbran who run a Hope Centre and Phase 3 Supported housing and are one of many faith based organisations tackling addiction. He reminded us all that there is hope for everyone and that we must never underestimate the power of story.
Ben Lindsay founder of Power the Fight, a charity that is equipping and empowering communities to tackle Serious Youth Violence, talked about some of the positive and significant ways our faith communities can make a real difference in tacking serious youth violence in our nation. Melissa Llewellyn and Rehana Faisal from Faiths Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACES) gave an insight in how Muslim and Christian leaders in Luton have come together to equip faith communities across the country to tackle CSE.
Delegates were asked to utilise their faith based staff support networks to help engage their faith communities but not to rely on them to be the only contact. Everyone was urged to attend a prayer meeting if invited and to build effective relationships.
#FaithAndPoliceTogether will work if each person who attended the conference takes it back to their local Force area and looks to implement it. We are really hoping and praying that this does happen.
Source - Evangelical Alliance Idea Magazine
The UK is facing some grave challenges, with homelessness, youth-related crime, drug addiction and, even, loneliness taking its toll on the individuals involved and communities up and down the country.The police force is one section of society that is, perhaps, feeling the heat more than most, as it endeavours to respond to the increasing demands of the people it serves with fewer officers and support staff to share the workload. In a bid to meet the needs of communities in spite of the obstacles, Evangelical Alliance member the Christian Police Association (CPA) helped to set up the Faith and Police Together project in autumn last year.
The aim of the initiative, as its project manager Marie explains, is to encourage police officers and faith groups to work together more closely, and strategically, in order to significantly reduce the number of cases that sit within these four priority areas. With only 12 months to lay a foundation and get police officers and faith groups on board, Marie certainly has her work cut out.
How did the Faith and Police Together project come about?
Paul Blakey MBE, chief executive of Christian Nightlife Initiatives, Debra Green OBE, national director and founder of ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) and Lee Russell, executive director of the CPA, could see the good work that faith groups were involved with to assist the police in tackling crises that are wrecking people’s lives and our communities, as well as putting immense pressure on officers.
However, they felt that it was imperative to improve the way that these groups and the police work together. So, last year, on Monday, 16 April, in the Houses of Parliament, the Faith and Police Together (FPT) project was launched to encourage and facilitate closer working relationships.
CPA president, deputy chief constable Paul Netherton, has supported the project throughout and was instrumental in helping arrange the year’s secondment from my position as police sergeant with Norfolk Police to lead this project, get the momentum going and make this a national initiative.
I started in my role of project manager in September and hope to inspire the police to start thinking about faith communities as an untapped resource. I’ll also engage with faith communities so that they can support the police in tackling our four key priority areas: homelessness, youth-related crime, drug addiction, and loneliness.
Twelve months to build links between local police and their local faith communities seems a huge undertaking. What’s your strategy?
The key is to establish a network which sees local police around the UK build meaningful relationships with their local faith groups, and vice versa. So far, I’ve written to the national police chiefs and used my contacts within the service and the CPA to promote what I’m doing, connect with as many faith groups as possible and get the message out.
Christian organisations have played an important part in helping us to spread the word. Premier and Churches Together in England have already used their platforms to disseminate information about this initiative, and now we’re featuring in the magazine of the Evangelical Alliance. One of the main challenges at this stage is ensuring police departments hear about the initiative and catch the vision. We need buy-in; if officers aren’t sharing the message, then it’s less likely to take hold.
How each force area runs with this project will vary, because it’ll reflect the needs of their communities and the resources and support available. Hitherto, several forces, including Essex, Yorkshire, Hertfordshire and my own force Norfolk, have said that they are keen to take part. They would like to explore the approach as outlined in the FPT project.
For the duration of this project and thereafter, we expect to share best practice examples to help communities tackle these priority areas. These approaches can be ‘franchised’, or groups can mix and match or come up with their own ideas.
There were calls for the police to work more closely with faith groups following terrorist attacks in recent years. Is there any connection between that push and the FTP project?
What I’m doing with the FTP initiative is quite different and a separate operation all together, not least because we’ve got in place Prevent, which is part of the UK’s counter terrorism strategy and through that officers are engaging with all faith communities to avert acts of terrorism. However, there is a natural fallout of better connected communities, in that there’d be a flow of intelligence and information. So, there’s potential to tie in with Prevent. But, ultimately, we’re focusing on the four priority areas that I’ve mentioned. We only have one year to build the foundations and try to encourage faith communities to think about engaging with their police in a different way.
I’m the only person working on this project, so we’ve got our work cut out. But, who knows where we’ll be by the end of the year and what can be achieved afterwards? What are some of the challenges that police forces in the UK are facing?
Since 2010 there has been a significant reduction in police funding, which has resulted in 20,000 police officers as well as support staff being let go. Consequently, it’s even more challenging responding to all the needs of our communities. It’s certainly a difficult and demanding job. The police have to prioritise, and we do this based on level of vulnerability. Chief officers are speaking openly about priorities and how best to use the valuable resources that we have, and this is happening more and more. The challenges don’t take away from wanting to protect our communities; all officers, of all faiths and none, want to do a good job.
Considering cuts and continued high demand from communities, is there capacity for police forces to get behind this project?
It is certainly a challenging time and a tough period for the police, so getting behind this project might seem like extra work initially. But, if we spend time engaging with our faith communities to address these issues now, particularly addiction, there is real potential for significantly reduced demand in these areas in the long run.
Why is it important for faith groups to work with the police to tackle some of the issues that are affecting communities around the UK?
Faith groups have an incredibly high drive to do good and to see their communities transformed. This zeal is especially evident in the church. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the answer and because God is involved things will happen. We need that faith and commitment!
Meanwhile, other faith groups will have approaches that work within their communities, so they will be able to deal with certain issues better than others would. Fundamentally, faith groups form a significant part of our community; if we don’t engage them, we will be excluding them and missing out on the good that they do. We shouldn’t do that.
Which other faith groups are involved in this initiative and do you think they can set aside differences for the sake of their communities?
The FPT project is open to every faith group, and we are working with the National Association of Muslim Police, the Jewish Police Association, the National Police Pagan Association, among others, to see this initiative move forward and succeed. While there are examples of different faith groups failing to unite for a shared purpose, there are excellent examples of people from all faiths and none working together and bringing about change. So, it could be a challenge for some, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s also important to bear in mind that each community is different and has unique needs that, as is often the case, only a specific faith group can understand and address – the Jewish and Islamic communities being prime examples. Faith groups would generally cater for their own communities and we need to leverage the advantages of that.
The FPT project focuses on four priority areas: addiction, homelessness, youth-related gang and knife crime, and loneliness. Loneliness may not have made my shortlist; why has it made the FPT project’s?
With drug addiction being one of the police service’s largest demand generators, yes, it’s expected that it would be ‘top of the list’. Addiction feeds into homelessness and anti-social behaviour, in that these are often driven by the actions of both the supplier and user.
Loneliness is different. But we have found that people who are lonely, many of whom are elderly, but not exclusively, struggle to cope at home alone and become persistent callers. They may make frequent calls, often with odd requests, to the police and ambulance services, simply because they haven’t got anyone else to talk to or they don’t know what to do in a given situation.
One force had a persistent caller and would receive a very high number of calls in a week. The force organised for this person to receive the help they needed, and once they did, they stopped calling. Worse still, loneliness could end in suicide for some, which is a tragic loss of life and creates a significant amount of work for us. The more time police spend on these cases, the less time they’ll have to tackle serious crime.
How can local churches support the FPT project?
We urge the UK church to work with us to tackle homelessness, addiction, youth-related gang and knife crime, and loneliness. First and foremost, we need the church’s prayers, so we implore congregations and individual Christians to bring these grave challenges before God. We recognise and value the great work that local churches and Christian charities are already doing in these areas. But, as people around the UK remain trapped in vicious cycles, which unsettles communities and puts significant pressure on stretched police resources, it’s essential that we continue to petition God for help.
We also encourage local churches to connect with their local police departments and establish a relationship with officers. By doing so, congregations can find out the specific issues their force is dealing with, as these change every two or four weeks. Then, congregants can pray into these particular areas as well as the broader priorities. Churches want to see their communities transformed, and are keen to help, but as they don’t have access to the information that police departments do, they are not fully informed and, therefore, will unlikely be able to channel their resources where they are most desperately needed. So, building a relationship and maintaining contact are so important.
Finally, consult with God to find out what He is calling your church congregation to do specifically. It may be laid on the heart of some local churches, for example, to provide a service for people who are lonely. Other gathered communities may sense a pull to pray into these areas during meetings. While others might be drawn to support financially an existing project which is led by a church or Christian charity. In the meantime, though, visit www.faithandpolicetogether.org to find out more.