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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 10:13 GMT
Police target Asian crime 'from within'
Bags of heroin
Drug pushing is one issue which police are targeting
Britain's most senior ethnic minority police officer has appealed to Asians in London to help police fight organised crime within their own community.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who has responsibility for the Metropolitan police Specialist Crime Directorate, says a small minority of Asians in London are involved in criminal gangs.

I'm getting a lot of calls from Asian communities saying 'for God's sake do something about it'

Tarique Ghaffur
Their activities range from the drugs trade, and the violence which goes with it, to protection rackets, prostitution rings and even fraudulent spiritual healing, he said.

He has written an open letter, published in several newspapers, appealing to people in the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan communities to help the police tackle these crimes.

But some senior members of these ethnic groups have criticised Mr Ghaffur for speaking out at a time when the far right British National Party may be gaining more influence.

They say his comments could perpetuate racist stereotypes.

Mr Ghaffur told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't like segregating crime by race but I think the reality is that there is organised crime within distinct communities.

He does not address the mistrust of the police that exists among large numbers of young Asians

Suresh Grover
"Often what happens is that the perpetrators and the victims are from the same communities and I'm getting a lot of calls from Asian communities up and down London saying 'for God's sake do something about it'"

He denied that the scheme would be music to the ears of far right groups such as the BNP who would use it as an excuse to link race with crime.

And he said he had widespread backing from community leaders for the direct approach to the Asian public.

But Suresh Grover, who monitors racially motivated attacks for the organisation Monitoring Group, said he was concerned that the police would not be able to reach the people within the community who were involved in crime or who had the most pertinent information.

"He does not address the mistrust of the police that exists among large numbers of young Asians," he said.

'Balanced view'

And he added that Mr Ghaffur's approach put the onus on the Asian community to deal with their "own" problems which then left them vulnerable to being blamed for the rise of the far right because of a "small number of crimes".

Lord Parekh, who chaired the Commission on the Future of a Multi-Ethnic Britain, said the community should not "wash its hands" of such problems.

He argued that Mr Ghaffur was overplaying the extent of organised crime although he admitted that it had risen within recent years.

A "more balanced" view was needed, he said. "The crime has increased but also the accomplishments have increased and they need to be highlighted as well."


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17 Jan 03 | England
06 Nov 02 | England
30 Jan 03 | England
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