Any guesses as to why a report might complain about the use of police dogs? Exposing dogs to unwarranted danger? Long working hours for dogs? Inadequate dog pension plans? Well, no, none of these. Apparently, it has something to do with allergies to dogs, or more correctly speaking, cultural ‘allergies’ to dogs. To borrow the words of the great Rolf Harris: ‘can you guess what it is yet?’ Why of course, it’s our old ‘friend’ Islam rearing its covered yet prominent head again, this time in the context of the policing of an anti-EDL demonstration in Leicester on 4 February this year!
An organisation calling itself Netpol – the Network for Police Monitoring – found the handling of policing in Leicester on the day in question unacceptable, for in its report into the operation it criticises the police for attempting to persuade young Muslims not to demonstrate against the EDL, and for using dogs to help hold them at bay (that last phrase not being found in the report). The key findings of the report are worth quoting, for they betray the innate bias of the compilers:
‘The report was launched at the Highfields Centre in Leicester on Monday 11th June by community youth worker and Netpol campaigner Saqib Deshmukh, who presented the findings to local activists, journalists and a representative of Leicestershire constabulary. Saqib has also helped to train community based legal observers in East London, as part of the initiative to monitor the policing of the Olympics by Netpol partner Newham Monitoring Project.
• Police, working with Leicester council, put significant resources into a campaign aimed at persuading local people, particularly the youth, to stay away from counter demonstrations.
• The use of the Children Act, which allows police to take under-eighteen year olds to a ‘place of safety’, was unacceptably used as a ‘scare tactic’ to further dissuade young people from attending demonstrations
• Police maintained control over the movements of local people, making Leicester effectively a ‘no go zone’ for young Muslim men.
• Police used substantial force to control groups of Muslim youth, including the use of kettles, baton strikes and police dogs, leading to one young man sustaining dog bite injuries.
• Stop and searches were carried out under s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, a police power that does not require suspicion of an individual. Although the number of such stop and searches was not high, all reported searchers were of people of Asian appearance. Powers to remove face coverings and scarfs also appear to have been disproportionately used against Muslim/Asian young people.
• The facilitation of the EDL appeared to take greater priority than the facilitation of counter demonstrations.’
The clear thrust of the report seems to be that the police in England should not be permitted to use English policing methods. Most peculiar. Do you find it reassuring that Saqib Deshmuq has some involvement with the forthcoming Olympics?
The observers involved in the data gathering exercise can hardly be adjudged to take an impartial position, given that they were drawn from TREC (The Race Equality Centre) and something called the Highfields Centre. The Highfields Centre, founded in 1974, hides behind an innocuous enough name, but take a look at its website and you see that it is linked to 44 groups, 15 of which are specifically Muslim, and a number of which cannot be classified owing to their existence only as acronyms. Some of the names of affiliated organisations will I am sure warm the cockles of your heart: Al-Islamia Institute; Ansaar; Bangladesh Youth and Cultural Shomiti; Brit Bangla Progressive Society; Federation of Muslim Org; Leicester Khalifa Highfields Cricket Club; Saracen Archery Club; Somali Development Services Ltd.
The findings of this Netpol report can thus be dismissed as tendentious special pleading on behalf of a section of the Leicester population that neither wishes to acknowledge English law nor wishes to see its implementation continue. The police operation worked well, and there appears to be nothing in this report to contradict this conclusion. However, although The Leicester Mercury referred to the report's findings, it also drew attention to the fact that both Leicester's Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and the Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon who was in charge of the operation have defended the manner in which it was handled.