Lack of trust in police means Muslim parents won't speak of Syria-bound youngsters

New research from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University has found that Muslim parents view police with caution, a lack of trust and say they would not speak out if their children travelled to Syria.

Researchers conducted focus groups with Muslim parents in Birmingham, exploring how they view the current counter-terrorism policing strategy employed by West Midlands Police in relation to the crisis in Syria.

Dr Surrinder Guru, Lecturer in Social Work at University of Birmingham 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.’

Dr Imran Awan, Associate Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University said: ‘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.

Participant responses indicated there were some levels of historical mistrust between Muslim communities and the police.

Dr Guru added: ‘The data from the research study has found that Muslim community members are increasingly finding the partnership with the police service problematic.

‘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.

The study established that many parents also found it difficult handling personal moral dilemmas which could see them alienating their own children by giving the police information about them.

Participant comments included: ‘I don’t trust the police so I would not tell them”; “I would not call them because the police might just come knocking on my door and arrest my other children”; and “I would not report them to the police, because that’s not what parents do. We need to educate them not to travel there in the first place. If I told the police they would then arrest me and my children.’

ENDS

For interview requests please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on 0121 414 9041 or email R.L.Hume@bham.ac.uk

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Notes to editor: