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Faith and Police Together – what's new?

Lots has happened since Faith and Police Together was launched last year, says project manager

You may have read in the March-April edition of idea, the magazine of the Evangelical Alliance, that the Christian Police Association help to set up the Faith and Police Together project in a bid to bring together faith groups and police forces to tackle some of the grave challenges affecting communities the length and breadth of the country.

It’s now been almost one year since I started my role as project manager in September 2018, and ahead of the official 12-month embedding’ phase of this project coming to an end, I’d like to share with readers some updates. The last few months have seen me travel all over the country, meeting with lots of different police forces, to discuss how the they can engage with faith communities better. It was a privilege to be able to speak at the Local Policing Conference, the Gwent Police Faith and Police’ event in Newport in March and the Momentum Recovery Conference’ in Cwmbran on the socio-economic cost of addiction in April. 

The 19 June saw the Faith and Police 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. Ninety-one delegates attended from across the country, with a wide range of policing ranks and roles represented. 

The aim of the day was to encourage police to routinely engage with 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.

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The conference was opened by the deputy chief constable (DCC) 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 interfaith 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. He was helped from a life of homelessness, addiction and crime to become director of Hope Centre Ministries UK and senior pastor at Victory Church, Cwmbran, which runs a Hope Centre and Phase 3 Supported Housing, and is one of many faith-based organisations tackling addiction. (Clyde’s story features in the January-February edition of idea magazine and you can read it by clicking here.)

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 faith communities can make a real difference in tacking this problem in our country. 

Meanwhile, Melissa Llewellyn and Rehana Faisal from FACES (Faiths Against Child Sexual Exploitation), which is a multi-faith initiative set up by Christian and Muslim leaders working together in Luton, gave an interesting and challenging input. Their vision is to strengthen resilience within faith communities and protect children by enhancing awareness and the understanding of child sexual exploitation (CSE), equipping faith organisations, parents and young people, to prevent, recognise and respond to the issues more effectively. 

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. 

A couple of other the projects I have also engaged with that are making a difference are Muslim Hands UK, which is working to help tackle homelessness and loneliness through going into prisons and connecting with inmates, helping them to get the support that they need to reintegrate with family and their faith communities once they come out of prison. 

Muslim Hands UK also run Hanslow Open Kitchen’, which opens seven days a week at lunchtime and in the evening, and everyone is welcome to come and eat and give what they can afford. The group also runs a luncheon club which sees 50 more elderly residents come for lunch and receive advice and any relevant support that they might need. 

Second, the Christian Nightlife Initiative, which is an umbrella organisation that equips and resources local churches and communities to bring change to wider communities by connecting with others and offering project ideas. Most well-known is its Street Angels. The Christian Nightlife Initiative also supports festival Angles, Club Angels, safe place drop-ins, and Youth Angles.

I am now in the writing up a report detailing my findings and the impact of faith communities partnering with the police and will be producing a toolkit which, with the support of other faith-based staff support networks, will be tailored to the different faith communities, to help facilitate both faith groups and the police understand better how they can work together in partnership. This will be released in September. 

Prayer requests

  • Please pray for divine help in putting together the toolkit.
  • I also need to produce a report detailing my findings and the impact of faith communities partnering with the police – again divine help is needed for this.
  • I am due to return to normal policing’ in October; please pray for God’s hand on my posting. Ideally I would like to be posted in a position where I can fully utilise all the things that I have learned during my secondment. 
  • Please also pray that I would continue to stay focused on God’s calling and know what are the right things to do and what God wants me to do. 
  • Pray that the church would start to want to work more in unity together and with the police to see our communities transformed. 
  • Pray that the church would start to work more and more with those caught in the trap of addiction. Addiction is one of the biggest demand generators for the whole of the public sector; if those caught in addiction are set free, we will see our society transformed.

Photo by King’s Church International

About the author

I have 13 years’ experience working for Norfolk Police, mainly in uniform. In November 2009 the Norfolk branch of the Christian Police Association (CPA) relaunched and I have been heavily involved with the CPA since. One of the aims of the CPA is to build bridges with our Christian communities. I am currently seconded to an initiative that launched in April 2018 called Faith and Police Together, which aims to see police engaging with their local faith communities to bring about community transformation and reduce demand.

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