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.