‘Alternative’ policing in some minority communities

Police are never called by certain minority communities because they administer their own justice even in cases as serious as murder and sexual assaults on children, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor has said.

He said offences including “honour” killings and violence, domestic abuse, sexual assaults on children and female genital mutilation were among those not reported to police because communities wanted to deal with them themselves.

Mr Winsor said there were some cities in the Midlands where police were never called because communities dealt with issues themselves, and he stressed these “alternative” systems were run not by criminals but by “law-abiding people”.

He said the situation was similar to West Belfast at the height of the Troubles where communities relied on paramilitary groups to dispense justice.

“It could be anything. [Honour killings] are the most extreme case. That is murder. There is no honour in it,” he told The Times.

Mr Winsor said he was reluctant to name the communities in question but said there were communities from other cultures who prefer to police themselves.

He added: “It’s not that the police are afraid to go into these areas or don’t want to go into those areas.

“But if the police don’t get calls for help then, of course, they won’t know what’s going on.”

Mr Winsor said the issue of alternative justice systems had to be tackled, and all communities encouraged to trust the police and the authorities “so that justice will be delivered according to the criminal justice system of this country and no other system”.

His first annual assessment of the state of British policing in England and Wales is due to be published in the next few weeks.

Scotland Yard said it recognised some of the issues raised by Mr Winsor but said it was working with minorities on crimes such as genital mutilation and honour violence.

West Midlands Police chief constable Chris Sims strongly disagreed with Mr Winsor’s comments about minority communities describing them as “just wrong”.

There has been concern about the growth of Sharia courts in some Muslim communities and a failure to report alleged crimes by some section of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The Muslim Council of Britain said it was “absurd” to see Sharia courts as evidence of that some communities were policing themselves and said it cooperated fully with the police.

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