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LONDON, June 23 (KUNA) — London needs another 2,000 Muslim police officers, Britain’s most senior police officer said Thursday.
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair also defended the rise in stop and search of Muslim suspects and said they would continue.
In an interview with the “Muslim News” newspaper, Sir Ian said “What I really need is more Muslim police officers.
“We’ve got 200 to 300 members in the Muslim Police Association. I want as many as I can get.
“If something like one-in-nine Londoners is a Muslim than I want one-in-nine police officers to be a Muslim. Which means we are currently 2,000 short.” Sir Ian said that, while only “small numbers” of British Muslims are stopped and searched, it was a “very uncomfortable time” for the community.
Figures released last February showed that the number of searches under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 rose 36 percent to 29,400 in 2003/04.
Of these, 12.5 percent involved Asians, even though they make up just 4.7 percent of the population in England and Wales.
Sir Ian said “The percentages are actually involving numbers less than 10 people a day out of a Muslim population of 700,000 and a million in London. Ten people a day are relatively a small number.
“I accept totally it’s a cause of concern in the Muslim community.” “On the other hand, among the different human rights there are, the most significant human right is not to be murdered.” “A very small number of stops and searches that we do, I’m afraid we’re going to continue,” he added.
Sir Ian insisted there was still a “credible” terrorist threat and that a number of British-born Muslims were in custody with major trials yet to take place.
He said “The intelligence reports that I see and my colleagues and security services see tell us that there is a credible threat.” “There is clear evidence of people reconnoitring, moving money around, there’s lots of stuff on email and the internet.” — “I suppose I’d rather be accused of saying there’s too much of a threat than appearing to be complacent … It’s my job to get people to be alert, not alarmed.” Earlier this year his predecessor Sir John Stevens claimed there are possibly more than 200 al Qaida-trained terrorists walking the streets of Britain.
Sir Ian said “If the issue is how many people do we believe went to the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan who were either resident in or born in Britain, then that figure is about right.” “That doesn’t mean, of course, that they’ve all came back as converts.” Sir Ian said “the jury is out” on whether his officers would start to record the religion of stop and search suspects.
“It’s an ongoing debate … My own view is that pragmatically, I’m not persuaded, this seems a very intrusive question to me,” the Metropolitan Police Commissioner concluded.
(Posted on July 19, 2005)