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This page contains press release 64/06, in which the MPA details its activities and programme of hearings on Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate.

Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).

See the MOPC website for further information.

MPA - listen to women for a different perspective on dealing with terrorism

6 October 2006

Women's groups have told the Metropolitan Police Authority that there needs to be greater effort made to consult their members on counter-terrorism issues, and to gain their insight, trust and support for policing the threat.

The Metropolitan Police Authority's 'Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate' held its fourth hearing in the programme on Thursday 5 October, inviting representatives from women's groups across London to recount their experiences of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Ranjit Kaur, director of Rights of Women, which provides legal and civil rights advice, said police needed to speak to greater numbers of women through umbrella "second-tier" women's organisations, thereby consulting with hundreds and possibly thousands of women at a time.

"Women have a great deal to say on the present threat, but their views, experiences and ideas are often ignored or simply not sought at all.

"Police need to go to women's groups directly and engage with their members, and then feed back to them on how their input has helped."

Julie Hill, director of Women's Radio Group, said police should use the network of community radio stations more effectively to speak to a wide cross-section of society.

"Women are naturally very good communicators and consulting with them through local radio is a great way to hear their views, seek their support and keep them informed of counter-terrorism measures and police strategies."

Shagufta Nasreen, a community outreach and support worker with EC1 New Deal, said women performed a number of roles in relation to young people, often including mother, educator and home-keeper, and should be encouraged to take part in the terror debate.

"We don't want to turn mums into spies, but they do have a very good insight into how their children perceive the world, and have a valuable contribution to make to the wider terrorism debate.

"Police need to communicate with young people much more, and as a society we need to deal with the causes of their disaffection where it exists and not the symptoms. And we all need the courage to speak up and be heard."

Cindy Butts, MPA deputy chair, who sits on the forum's panel, said:

"Women make up 51% of the population and we want to encourage them to take part in this important debate and help us tackle one of the biggest threats to our way of life.

"Marginalising more than half of our population is counterproductive, and we must reverse our tendency to listen only to the views of men. Police are as guilty of this as anyone and need to tap into women's networks to help us build stronger bonds among all London's communities.

"Women have a valuable contribution to make generally, and specifically in helping us to prevent young men from becoming radicalised or feeling isolated from mainstream society, especially a problem among black and Asian men. Women bring a new perspective to a growing problem and we would do well to listen."

Six hearings have been organised by the MPA to give specifically invited London communities the opportunity to express their views about counter-terrorism policing to a panel of MPA members. The first hearing on Thursday 29 June 2006 enabled young Londoners to put their views to the MPA's guest, the Commissioner of the Met, Sir Ian Blair. On July 6 at the second hearing representatives from business, tourism and local government expressed their views to the MPA's guest Assistant Commissioner Steve House. Representatives from faith groups attended the third hearing on 7 September to recount their experiences to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick.

Notes to editors

1.Toby Harris, MPA member with special responsibility for counter-terrorism, Cindy Butts and Reshard Auladin, both deputy chairs of the MPA, form the MPA panel that hears evidence presented by invited communities.

2. There will be external guest panellists at each hearing.

3. A senior MPS officer will be invited to each session to provide an initial response to the communities' issues and then take questions from the group. The first hearing on 29 June 2006 was attended by the Commissioner and the second on 6 July 2006 was attended by Assistant Commissioner Steve House.

4. The programme for the six hearings is:

  • Thursday 29 June - young people
  • Thursday 6 July – councillors, business and tourism representatives
  • Thursday 7 September - faith groups
  • Thursday 5 October - women
  • Thursday 16 November - Asian men
  • Thursday 7 December - police and government

5. Following on from these hearings the work will include:

  • six confidential focus groups with students in London universities and colleges, to discuss extremist recruitment and radicalisation on campus
  • thirty-two local consultations - one in every London borough
  • analysis of qualitative data received through the MPA website
  • a publication, featuring contributions from practitioners, commentators and community representatives

6. Attendance at this programme of events is by invitation only.

7. Further information about the MPA's programme of events can be found at:

8. Confidential anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321

9. Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111

Further media information

For further information, please contact the MPA press office

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