Police: We'll defend you against far-right extremists

Demonstrating: the far-right English Defence League

Demonstrating: the far-right English Defence League

Police forces across the country are strengthening their links to ethnic minority communities in the wake of the recent rise in the activities of far-right groups.

The National Communities Tension Team, part of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was “aware of heightened tensions and concerns within Jewish communities in relation to the ongoing English and Welsh Defence League demonstrations, as well as the ongoing focus on extreme right-wing issues”.

However, it was not aware of any increase in reported antisemitic incidents.

Detective Superintendent Alaric Bonthron, of the Metropolitan Police Communities Together Strategic Engagement Team, said: “The rise of the far right is causing considerable concerns among communities, and one of the biggest challenges for us is trying to engage those communities.

“The message we want to get across to the Jewish community — and every other minority — is that we take hate crime very seriously, but people need to report it to us. If we are not aware of graffiti on a building or a person being spat at, we cannot act on it. If it is reported to us, no matter how small, it helps us understand what is going on.”

Det Supt Bonthron said talking to communities gave the police valuable information. “The crimes tell us what is happening, the rumours and gossip we hear tell us what the communities think is happening. If we hear a wild rumour that could spark tension between communities, we can correct it through community leaders,” said the detective.

And he issued a clear warning that police would be particularly vigilant in the months leading up to next year’s general election.

“If there are incidents taking place during the run-up to the election from whatever group or party, we will act on them if they are reported to us,” he added.

    Last updated: 5:49pm, October 29 2009