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NEWS > 22 October 2006

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 Article sourced from

The Observer - UK
22 October 2006
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To view it in its entirity click this link.


Police anger over ban on arres

Manchester Police have been told not to arrest Muslims at prayer times during the holy month of Ramadan. The order is said to have angered a number of officers in the Greater Manchester force.
An internal email listing prayer times has been sent to officers who have been asked not to execute arrest warrants during prayer times for reasons of religious sensitivity.

'The month of Ramadan is an important time of the year for members of the Muslim community throughout the world,' said a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police who stressed the instruction applied only to warrants and not to on-the-spot arrests. 'It is important that normal, planned policing activities and operations are maintained, while ensuring that officers are professional and respectful to members of the community.' The spokesman insisted that officers were not being told to refrain from arresting Muslims altogether during the festival.

'Officers are categorically not being told to not arrest Muslims. That's not our policy. If anyone, of any faith, commits a crime during Ramadan, they will be arrested,' he added.

The spokesman said confusion arose because the original memo was unclear, and a second email has clarified that there is no blanket ban on arrests, simply a request for sensitivity.

Greater Manchester Police covers one of the most diverse cities in the UK, with a wide range of ethnic groups. It serves the communities of Moss Side, Hulme, Whalley Range, Rusholme, Fallowfield, Ardwick, Longsight, Gorton and Levenshulme.

A local councillor said the instruction could not apply if it stopped the police doing their job. 'This sounds odd but we would need to find out what impact rescheduling arrests had on police operations,' said Liberal Democrat Councillor Simon Ashley, who represents the city's Gorton South ward.

'The police's first job is to police. I understand they have a difficult task to do and need to do it sensitively, especially within minority communities, but that can't stop them policing serious crimes.'

Ramadan is due to end next week.

 

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