As part of an ongoing conversation with London's faith communities, the London Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, visited the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre yesterday (30 April).
The Commissioner was greeted by mosque officials and given a tour of the buildings, and was told about the Mosque's projects and services by Dilowar Khan, Executive Director of the East London Mosque Trust.
Over 40 guests then attended a dinner reception with faith and community leaders, welcomed to the London Muslim Centre by Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Chairman of the Trust.
Sir Bernard made a positive commitment to work with London's faith organisations, which he said were a vital connection to local communities. He said: "This is an opportunity for me to get out and meet people, to make sure we have got a great relationship with the Muslim community - to hear what their problems are - and if they want me to do something different, I'll do my best."
Speaking on stop-and-search powers, often seen as highly-controversial by minority and ethnic communities, Sir Bernard added: "Stop-and-search has been a real challenge for the MET throughout London, so that if you're from a black or ethnic minority community you're more likely to be stopped by the police. We're really proud of the fact that this year for people from the Asian background it's parity: so you're no longer more likely to be stopped and searched if you're a member of the Asian communities than if you are white. If you're a black member of the community the ratio is now 2:1, that's improved drastically from what used to be eleven times [greater]."
He went on to say: "Overall, crime has dropped in London by about 5.5-6%, which means around 45,000 people didn't suffer from any crimes this year."
He said that one in three police and community support officers (PCSO) were now drawn from minority communities and the MET was looking for ways to increase that.
Dilowar Khan said: "We appreciate the Commissioner's willingness to engage with our faith communities. The Muslim community plays a big part in helping the local police force, something we've always done. We need to encourage our young people to think about a career within the MET: the MET, too, needs to actively recruit from BME communities and make it easier for members of our community to join."
He also added that the local community welcomed the Commissioner's decision to order a review of stop-and-search policing. "Recommendations from this review need to be taken on-board and implemented thoroughly," he said.
Tower Hamlet's was largely untouched by wide scale rioting back in August 2011. The Mosque's management took pro-active steps within the community to help keep young people off the streets, leading to praise from local police.