How we deal with community cohesion
Peterborough is made up of diverse communities which we know can sometimes cause misunderstandings and lead to tension. One way we deal with this is through a Tension Monitoring Group (TMG).
The group meets regularly to discuss current issues and improve relationships in the community. It’s chaired by a police Community Cohesion Inspector, Nikki Hall, who works closely with me in the Safer Peterborough Partnership (SPP) and the Peterborough City Council Cohesion Manager, Jawaid Khan.
Other members of the group include the Chair of Promoting African Refugee Community Association (PARCA), the Syrian refugee re-settlement programme, a Sister from the church, Safer Schools and Regional College representatives, the council’s Youth Facilities Manager, Chair of MANERP, Cross Keys Homes Hate Crime Co-ordinator, an LGBT representative, community connectors and a representative from the police hate crime team. This month we also had a representative from a fairly new group called Community First which now works closely with the team.
Other members of the community can be invited to one-off TMGs. For example, post Brexit we held an emergency TMG and invited a larger group to attend to ensure representation from all eastern European communities as well as the community connectors. We also have the capability to escalate any issues to a higher level when necessary – as we did when we brought together a police Superintendent, councillors, mosque leaders and other key leaders in response to racist /anti- Islamic community flyers found near a mosque in May.
The approach this group adopts is very much a ‘nip it in the bud’ one, and works proactively with all community contacts as well as service providers.
The sorts of issues we discuss include the threat from terrorism, unauthorised traveller encampments, the EU referendum results, tensions linked to drug dealing and forthcoming community events.
Having identified the issues, we work together to try to reduce any potential impact that might be detrimental to harmony in the city.
Our hate crime meetings are often held directly after the TMG as the subjects are closely linked. A hate crime is “a crime that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity.”
Police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland annually monitor the five strands of hate crime; disability, gender identity, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, faith or belief or sexual orientation.
Since February, the police have successfully identified and dealt with offenders in 24 hate crimes. Reports have involved racist remarks to neighbours, po- lice officers during arrests, taxi drivers, door staff and even strangers on the street.
We have dealt with the offenders in a number of different ways. Some have been deemed as low level and a good outcome has been a community resolution. This is when the offender receives either a penalty notice for disorder, a conditional caution or is asked to write a letter of apology to the victim. Other cases have gone to court and resulted in offenders being given a conditional discharge or community order where they have to pay costs, compensation and fines.
The group monitors these crimes to see if there are any trends that we need to identify and tackle by intervention, prevention or enforcement. Peterborough is a vibrant, tolerant and united city where hate crime is not to be tolerated and we would encourage anyone who experiences it to report it.
There are various ways you can report hate crime: Telephone police “101” (Non-Emergency) Cambridgeshire Police website -
http://www.cambs-police.co.uk/victims/report_ online/ The True Vision online reporting, Report It - http://report-it.org.uk/ home Simple reporting form. Email to - www.cambs.police.uk/ contactus/contact.asp