Some Muslim parents would not speak out if their children went to Syria to fight with terrorists, according to a new study conducted in Birmingham.
Muslim parents told academics they feared police would arrest family members who traveled to Syria. The academics who conducted the study said the results indicated historical levels of mistrust between the police and Muslim communities.
Focus groups were conducted by Dr. Imran Awan and Dr. Surinder Guru with Muslim parents, to explore how they view West Midlands Police counter-terrorism strategies.
Dr. Awan, Associate Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University, said: “Muslim community members are increasingly finding the partnership with the police service problematic.
“The parents we spoke to were worried about the lack of support for Muslim families and they feared that anyone who had gone to Syria would be arrested and have their citizenship removed if they spoke out.”
Muslim mothers and fathers from different areas of Birmingham were split into different focus groups. All of the participants had children between the ages of 14 and 23, the Birmingham Mail reported.
Comments from parents taking part in the focus groups included: “I don’t trust the police so I would not tell them.”
Other parents feared informing the authorities: “If I told the police they would then arrest me and my children.” Another comment said: “I would not report them to the police, because that’s not what parents do.”
Dr. Guru, Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Birmingham, lamented the distrust between West Midlands Police and Muslim families he found in his report.
“The central contradiction appears to be that parents are implicitly held to be responsible for the actions of their children by the police, yet the parents are adamant that the responsibility is not theirs and that they are relatively powerless,” Dr. Guru said.
“In circumstances where the community lacks trust and confidence in the police, community policing is likely to be ineffective because it is viewed with suspicion.”
Chief Officer lead for the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU), Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, welcomed the report and sought to reassure Muslim communities.
“Local independent research is always useful and assists us in gaining an insight into how communities feel and how programmes of work are being received.
“WMCTU have carried out extensive engagement with women and young people over the last 12 months under the banner of the National Prevent Tragedies campaign.
“This engagement has focused on building personal resilience to those seeking to radicalise family members and to deter travel to Syria. We have received positive feedback from attendees at the events, but acknowledge there is always more that can be done to build trust.
“We have received several referrals over the past year, directly from concerned family members. In some cases the referral is too late and a loved one has already travelled, only then to lose their life in combat.
“Where we can intervene early we have been able to support both the family and their relatives through multi-agency programmes such as Channel, in very few cases these have led to criminal investigations,” Assistant Chief Constable Beale said.