#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.
Just a quick email update with what I have been doing for Faith and Police together throughout November. The last four weeks have been rather busy with a lot of traveling and meetings around the country, below are a few of the highlights.
10th Nov - ‘Jubliee+ Churches that Change Communities’ Annual Conference: the key note speakers were Martin Charlesworth calling the Church to think and act strategically to bring about community transformation and the Bishop of Burnley who urged the church not to neglect the poor and get out into the urban estates. There was also an array of seminars on tackling addictions, homelessness, and loneliness in the older generation and much more. All the talks can be found at www.jubilee-plus.org/media
12th-14th Nov - Christian Police Association Leaders’ Conference: as always this was an inspiring and encouraging time. Paul Blakey from ‘Christian Night Life Initiative’ spoke to us about the work of ‘Street Angels’, ‘Festival Angels’, and the significant crime reduction impact they have had. Check out www.cninetwork.org
15th and 16th Nov - I spent two days at ‘Betel UK’ in Birmingham who offer a residential recovery community to those affected by homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and long-term unemployment. They can support more than 375 men and women across the country at any one time and will often take someone within 1-5 days of the initial interview. It was another inspirational and encouraging time, hearing the stories of how the residents' lives had been transformed, how they now feel valued and that their lives have meaning, they are no longer committing crime and taking drugs. Visit www.betel.uk for more information.
21st Nov - I attended the Northampton ‘ROC Conversation’ which was the largest ever with 400 people attendance from all different areas of the community wanting to be involved in helping Northampton be a better and safer place to live. A ‘ROC Conversation’ is a great way to pull the local community together, find out what is already happening and celebrate that, then look at the issues within the community and come up with solutions to help solve those problems. Visit www.roc.uk.com/roc-conversation for more information
22nd Nov – I attended the launch of the College of Policing’s new ‘National Diversity Equality and Inclusion Strategy’ at their National Diversity Conference, where I was privileged to represent the Christian Police Association alongside colleagues from the Muslim Police Association, Black Police Association, LGBT+ Police Network and Autism Police UK on a staff support networks Q&A panel.
23rd Nov - I spent the day discussing the Churches’ response to addiction and how Jubilee+ could assist the church increase its capacity to help tackle the problem of addiction. This was a great day and lots of positive and useful ideas were generated. I will keep you updated with further information as things move forward. Check out www.jubilee-plus.org for further info about what they do and see their recent research report; ‘Supporting People With Addiction’. This is a preliminary report on UK church-based work to help those suffering with addictions. I am sure some great resources will be produced or advertised over the coming months.
Many of these ideas can be transferred to other faith communities.
Over the last few weeks I’m met with and spoken to lots of people from a variety of different areas and organisations including Faith Forum for London, Faith in Society, Faith Action, Nishkam SWAT, Churches Together England and I’ve been to see a number of project/organisations which are reducing demand on the police and other statutory agencies to help transform lives and their communities some of those are:-
Teen Challenge have seen large numbers of men and women get free from addiction and crime, get re-educated and living quality lives that make a difference to society over the last 33 years. They have 6 residential units across the UK and numerous outreach projects working mainly with the people the police have regular dealing with. www.teenchallenge.org.uk
A homeless project in Manchester city centre which is aiming to eradicate homelessness long term with a multi-agency partnership approach and faith communities are central to that.
Redeeming our Communities (ROC) HQ hearing about the various work and projects they are doing, ROC Champions working in schools developing showing children their value and developing positive life skills, ROC restore working with the police to bring about quality resolutions to long standing neighbourhood disputes, bullying etc. thereby reducing demand on police and ROC Coach a professional community mentoring programme which aims to empower disadvantaged children, young people, families, those at risk of offending (depending on the agreed target group) to build resilience in individuals bringing about long term change in lives and communities. Visit www.ROC.uk.com ROC coach is also being rolled out in areas of London to work with families whose children are at risk of offending and getting into drugs.
The Message Trust Manchester, work with a variety of churches. I visited the Enterprise Centre this is a great initiative that is helping people to rebuild their lives through socially responsible business comprises many different aspects of transforming lives and preventing reoffending by providing a holistic support. Over the 5 years they have been running their reoffending rate is less than 10% whilst estimates suggest the national average equivalent could be as high as 80%. They are passionate about seeing lives turned around and those who were part of the problem becoming part of the solution. Visit www.themec.org.uk They also do work in prisons seeing lives transformed and people resettled once out of prison. The Eden project who alongside a local church do detached youth work and help to see long term lasting change in the most deprived communities. Visit www.themessage.org.uk for more information.
Hope Centre Ministries in Cwmbran www.hopecm.co.uk are hosting a recovery conference on 10th December at Victory Church Cwmbran, Wales. If you’re a professional working in treatment wanting to see how they facilitate recovery, a service user who’s searching for hope or a family member who needs to understand the complexity of addiction, this is for you. Attached is a poster with further information.
Police offer Counter Terrorism training for staff and volunteers working at places of worship:
Counter Terrorism Police are calling on places of worship to take part in an innovative new training scheme that is proving a hit with major shopping and entertainment venues.
The package – free to use and developed in partnership with retail giant Marks & Spencer – aims to equip workers in crowded places with knowledge to help prevent terror attacks.
Fifteen hundred companies nationwide have already signed up.
Called ACT Awareness e-Learning, the training covers how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and what to do if a major incident should take place. Free to use, the package can be divided into short sections to suit business or service needs. However, it takes just three quarters of an hour to complete – 45 vital minutes that could save lives.
Last year 36 people were killed and many more were injured in five separate incidents in London and Manchester. One of the attacks involved a group of worshipers outside a mosque. One man lost his life and many others were injured.
Police are now asking leaders of all faith institutions – especially those who host large congregations – to encourage staff and volunteers to take part.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, national lead for Protective Security, says: “There is no specific intelligence to say that places of worship are particularly at risk but sadly we have seen that attacks can take place anywhere at any time. All locations that attract large numbers of people should take steps to help protect their staff and visitors.”
Manchester suffered the largest loss of life in last year’s attacks, when 22 people died in an explosion at a pop concert. The city’s cathedral was one of the first organisations across the UK to sign up to the scheme.
The Dean of Manchester, the Very Reverend Rogers Govender, says: “The online training shows staff in simple terms what to look out for and what to do if the worst should happen.
“It’s basic and free advice that could save lives. I would encourage others across all faiths to ask their employees and volunteer workers to take part. We all need to play our part in helping to keep our communities safe.”
Organisations wanting more information, or to apply for registration, should visit the National Counter Terrorism Security Office website - www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-counter-terrorism-security-office
Faith and Police Together is a new initiative aimed at building links between local police and their local faith communities. We believe that faith communities have a major role to play in bringing about community transformation and cohesion. When the police and faith community’s work together to tackle some of the issues the police are also facing, we will see lives and communities transformed. This, in turn can lead to reduced demand on police services, a valuable contribution to a service that has extensive demands placed upon it. Policing covers a vast ranges of issues within society and it is not always crime that is the problem. We have identified 4 priority areas which we want to concentrate on and to encourage faith communities to engage with over the next year. These priority areas include:-
We want to support the continued growth of strong and effective connections between the local police service, faith groups and local projects; thereby building the Faith and Police network in support of local communities. There are many projects and evidence of good practice already in existence and we hope utilise and work with some of those projects to help give faith communities templates and ideas to assist them locally to meet their needs. We will be promoting case studies and initiatives throughout the year. We want to see safer communities and the most vulnerable cared for and believe that this project will help deliver that ambition.
Deputy Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Paul Netherton says “Faith and Police Together is a multi-faith initiative designed to galvanise the support of faith groups to support the police and to help address problems and challenges within our communities. Often faith groups have a high motivation to help within our society but sometimes don’t know how they can help or even how they talk to the police to find out what the problems are or how they can assist. My experience of working with groups and churches is that once you start the conversations you unlock massive social capital that can transform an area or make a real difference to a problem. This could be around Street Angels patrolling the night time economy, drop in centres for young people or cafes where the homeless or lonely can find support. The benefit for the police and all the public sector is significant in terms of reducing demand and finding long term solutions. This is a great initiative and is welcomed by the police and will lead to some transformational change to some of the most challenging social issues across the country.”
Marie Reavey a police officer from Norfolk has recently been seconded to this project to help progress our objectives. If you are keen to find out how you can get involved please check out our website www.faithandpolicetogether.org.uk. If you are working in the 4 priority areas within your community or would like more details about this exciting new project please contact Acting Inspector Marie Reavey on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Representatives from a wide range of faith and police related communities gathered in the Houses of Parliament this week for the launch of #FaithAndPoliceTogether.
#FaithAndPoliceTogether is a collaboration of several faith based organisations who each have a long standing track record of working alongside Police and statutory bodies with outcomes that have helped towards wider community transformation within Police Related Priorities.
The day was hosted by Halifax MP Holly Lynch who founded the campaign for police officer safety - #ProtectTheProtectors. Ms Lynch spoke about the way faith communities were working within her own constituency and the impact they have for the wider community.
Representatives from faith groups including Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Sikh spoke about work, impact and needs within each faith and the wider community.
The work of faith communities were thanked by Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police Paul Netherton who highlighted the way faith groups respond within disaster situations including the Grenfell Tower fire.
Grassroots faith led projects were highlighted including ROC Conversations, Street Angels and Bus Oasis. ROC Conversations gather together people of goodwill to produce action plans towards community cohesion whilst Bus Oasis, working in Calderdale, meet needs including elderly isolation and young people hanging around in the town centre - the latter seeing anti-social behaviour reduce by 25% as a result.
The day finished with messages of encouragement from MP's and Christians on the Left.
Debra Green OBE, founder and Executive Director of Redeeming Our Communities, comments, "I was delighted to attend the #FaithAndPoliceTogether network event at the Houses of Parliament on April 18th. Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) are members of the network and are passionate to play our part alongside other faith organisations in supporting policing priorities. We are better together. ‘
Paul Blakey MBE, co-founder of #FaithAndPoliceTogether and CEO of Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network, said "This was an exciting day of gathering together faith, police and political leaders from across the UK to start and continue conversations around working together for the benefit of the wider society. Together we can achieve community transformation and cohesion which will help create communities that all want to be part of."
Lee Russell, Executive Director of the Christian Police Association said “It has been really great to be part #FaithAndPoliceTogether and members of our charity’s executive team were so pleased to be able join the launch event. It was exciting to be able to connect with both faith and also police related communities within this exciting project and we look forward to continuing to support this initiative”
To find out more about how to join this exciting new project please visit www.faithandpolicetogether.org.uk
#FaithAndPoliceTogether was born out of a conversation between Lee Russell, Debra Green OBE and Paul Blakey MBE (pictured above left and outside Number 10 - left to right Lee, Debra and Paul). Each had seen the enormous impact that faith based organisations could make within communities and Paul was challenged that there needed to be a collaboration between the different faith communities and the police to help develop ideas, networking, partnerships, working models, etc. Four months after that August 2016 lunch conversation in a coffee shop on the outskirts of Manchester they had lunch again (this time a sandwich in Westminster tube station to avoid torrential rain) before a very positive meeting with the faith advisor for the then Prime Minister in Number 10 Downing Street followed by another positive meeting in the Houses of Parliament with MP Holly Lynch. A launch reception was booked in the diary for the following year in the Houses of Parliament - sadly delayed due to a snap general election! Eventually a launch reception was held in April 2018 and was represented by six faith groups, various faith based organisations and police at all levels. Our website unfolds the #FaithAndPoliceTogether story.