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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 June 2006, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Race law update needed, Phillips
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality
Mr Phillips is due to make a speech on Monday
Britain's race laws need updating to help in the battle against terrorism, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has said.

Trevor Phillips has called for a debate on positive discrimination in favour of Muslims applying to join the police.

In a speech to be delivered on Monday he will question whether the police are "fit for purpose" for anti-terror campaigns.

He will also say race relation laws are stopping diversification in the police.

Mr Phillips will emphasise that it is not just a matter of fairness and equality, but an issue of national security.

Muslim commitment

In the speech to be given at the Social Policy Forum at the Government Office for London, he will say that British Muslims are as committed to tackling "terrorism" as anyone else.

And as an example of how the new system might work, he will cite the Police Service of Northern Ireland, where the law was changed to allow it to recruit half of all its new officers from the Catholic community.

"I can't say for certain whether I think we should go down this road; and if we do how exactly we'd do it," he will say.

If you don't have Muslim officers to put into surveillance cars, you can give up any hope of doing covert operations in some areas
Trevor Phillips, Chairman, CRE

"But I do know that we have to debate such measures if we are going to avoid the spectre of a mainly white security and justice apparatus policing increasingly aggrieved and hostile black and Asian communities."

Referring to the 2 June raid in Forest Gate, east London, he will say: "Every time an operation like this goes wrong it further alienates communities who want to help in the fight against terrorism."

Mr Phillips, who has been head of the CRE since 2003, will stress that race relations legislation is hindering the process of diversifying police and security forces.

"If you don't have Muslim officers to put into surveillance cars, you can give up any hope of doing covert operations in some areas."

Community tolerance

Mr Phillips, a former head of the National Union of Students, will also warn that it cannot be taken for granted that Muslim communities will put up with anti-terror searches indefinitely.

The CRE was set up in 1976 and although it is maintained by a Home Office grant its role is independent.

It can provide legal advice and assistance to people who think they have been discriminated against.

Mayor fights plans to scrap CRE
21 Nov 05 |  London
Police racism review sets targets
15 Jul 05 |  Scotland

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