Police-Faith Relations: Perceptions, Experiences and Challenges
thesisposted on 19.06.2017, 12:19 authored by Laura Jane Knight
The changing landscape of police-faith relations in the UK presents challenges to policing policy and practice relating to issues of prejudice, hate crime, extremism and terrorism. Academic attention in this area has largely focussed on Muslim and Jewish communities in the context of hate crime and terrorism, yet increasing diversity and community hostility to ‘difference’ requires a broader lens through which to assess police-faith relations. This case study draws on qualitative interviews with police officers and staff, self-identified ‘faith community leaders’ and community members across Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Quaker and Sikh faiths. The findings demonstrate a prevailing perception of the police as ‘uncultured’, fuelled by limited engagement with faith communities and the framing of police-faith relations as an issue of diversity associated with risk. This issue is exacerbated by systemic dominant cultures in policing which value ‘catching criminals’ and devalue the ‘soft’ skills and roles associated with building relationships across diverse groups. The ‘cultural work’ of the police in the recognition of some social identities and groups over others is shown to impact upon perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy in policing across faith groups. The findings highlight limitations in leadership and strategy to develop police-community relationships, which specifically impacts upon faith groups at the periphery of police awareness and protection. This study shows that interrelated issues of police cultures, prejudice and faith hate crime are evident in a county where ‘diversity’ is less visible and argues for faith to become more explicit in assessments of police legitimacy beyond large, multicultural cities.