Dear Kathryn,

We are writing to express our alarm at your testimony at the Home Office Select Committee on the 14th of November 2017. Not only are we surprised at your speaking of a live investigation in a public context, we are extremely concerned at the impact of this story in our Luton community and beyond.

Firstly, we would like to make it clear that we have supported the need for additional funding for Bedfordshire Police over the past few years and continue to do so. However, this should not be done at the expense of the reputation of our town and communities or by riding roughshod over principles of honesty and decency.

You stated:

Currently, in Bedfordshire, there are six major CSE investigations, all with the type of nuances of those we have seen previously in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Manchester.

It seems apparent to us within the Muslim community, and having discussed this in depth with friends and colleagues from outside the community, that the implication of this statement is that these are cases involving Muslim men. This, as we are sure you know was not an entirely honest representation of the situation. You may be aware that both councils of Mosques have been involved for almost 2 years now in setting up an organisation known as FACES (Faiths Against Child Sexual Exploitation). It is through this work that we became aware of current police investigations in this area. However, we would never be so irresponsible as to discuss these matters openly as we are mindful of the risk to investigations and more specifically victims. We have been made aware of an allegation, through organisations that support some of the victims of historic CSE, that a young woman was subject to a serious assault as a direct result of your public testimony. This is indefensible.

You also, regrettably, chose to make the following statement

We discovered through our CTIU counter-terror activity over the last year to 18 months what is in effect a lost generation of children being brought up in households where there is jihadist material and so on.

Again, we know that this is not an honest representation of the situation. Moreover, to speak of our children as a “lost generation” is deeply offensive and damaging. It is our belief that both these statements were made in an attempt to position Muslims in Luton as a “problem community” and a “suspect community”, in order to be used as a tool to secure more funding for the force. Aside from being an astoundingly poor political decision, this is also entirely unethical. Your actions, however, endorse concerns that have been expressed by members of our community about your attitudes towards Muslims.

Your comments to the HASC occurred following a letter that you wrote to us earlier this year, on the 13th of June 2017. It is also important to note that this correspondence came to us in response to a communication from one of our representatives in which we expressed our determination ‘to work with those who desire to build a collective narrative, a narrative that is inclusive, creates a sense of belonging rather than the dichotomy of ‘us vs them’ which creates the sense of the ‘other’, disempowerment, exclusion and can lead to notions of dehumanisation’. We were therefore extremely disappointed at the tone of your letter, which expressed a clear disdain for our community and dismissal of our efforts in countering hateful extremism, in all its form. We note that you highlight the fact that, although you saw our statements of grief and condemnation, we did not write to you personally following the attacks in London and Manchester. With respect, we are as saddened by these attacks as you are, and we stood with our community, and our Police force, in respect and mourning at vigils held in the town. Vigils where you were notably, and sadly, absent. Whether we talk about the attacks in Manchester or Finsbury Park, we know that these acts are abhorred by all decent-minded people – humanity is a given for us. You will note that our community has not asked for Christians or white persons to condemn attacks perpetrated by extremists from amongst those communities. We do not hold any faith or race responsible. Your expressed desire for direct condemnation to you from our community suggests a belief that our faith and/or race is directly or indirectly responsible for the said atrocities. This is not only offensive but dehumanising and highly discriminatory, suggesting an innate inability on our part to feel empathy for others because of our religion and/or race unless we openly express it.

We also noted your reference to a news piece, where a young man from the Muslim community expressed a reluctance to report concerns around extremism to the police. Although we agree that this one particular response is disappointing, it is clear that they are not representative of the views of the majority of the community, and you as our Police & Crime Commissioner should be well aware of this. You will know that the vast majority of these individuals seem to exist on the margins of society and have very little interaction with the wider Muslim community. Despite this, in almost every terrorist attack committed by an individual who identifies as Muslim to date, the persons concerned have been known to the police or the intelligence agencies, with some being reported on multiple occasions by the Muslim community. You will also know of our community’s relentless opposition to the presence of AlMuhajiroun (ALM) in Luton and that their views and conduct were reported to the police regularly and repeatedly over the years, well before it was proscribed.

We agree entirely with your view that ‘if an individual or group has any knowledge of a threat whatsoever they absolutely share the responsibility for it, if they do not pass that information on’. We do not, however, understand why you referenced an instance in another town where this wasn’t the case and related this to Luton. We can only conclude that you make this reference because that individual was a Muslim and therefore you have used this comment to make inferences about all Muslims. This feels discriminatory and unbecoming of someone who holds public office.

You mentioned your engagement with the Muslim community. Whilst we accept that you are somewhat new to this role and may have a limited understanding of the Luton context, we expect sincere, honest engagement. Instead, we have witnessed nominal, tokenistic visits where concerns are dismissed rather than noted and addressed. This needs to change in order to create the ‘genuine two-way street’, which you speak of. We have articulated our desire to contribute in word and deed, to address extremism and factors leading to it. Yet, it seems that our thoughts and opinions are brushed aside by those that hold power within the Police force. The fact that you seem surprised to hear of our condemnation of acts of terror from our pulpits highlights poor levels of engagement and understanding by your office and community-based teams. Let us take this opportunity to inform you, once again, that we have always and will continue to oppose hate and violence. This is core to our beliefs as Muslims. These beliefs, alongside our Islamic principles of living amicably and peacefully with our neighbours, provide the basis and ethos with which we raise our children. Again, we are disturbed by your regressive and somewhat xenophobic views regarding the Muslim community.

However, what was most appalling about your letter was your view that unless we responded in the way in which you desired, then these crimes will be ‘used as a justification for hate crime’ against our ‘own community’. It is apparent from a considerable number of comments of a very similar nature being made on social media platforms in support of hate crimes against Muslims, some people may agree with you This is a dangerous and divisive rhetoric, which not only echoes the sentiments of the far right, but reeks of hypocrisy given that time and time again Muslims have been accused of ‘greviance justification’ when discussing the role of foreign policy in the radicalisation process-despite this being stated as fact by Eliza Manningham Buller, formerly of MI5. Your insensitive comments come at a time where we have seen an exponential rise in hate crimes nationally and data we have received from Bedfordshire Police informs us of a 50% increase in hate crimes against Muslims locally. We are disappointed that neither you, nor a representative from your office, was able to make it to our recent Islamophobia conference, which would have been a good opportunity for you to learn more about this issue.

It is with regret that, both your letter and your recent statements at HASC, have shaken the trust and confidence that we would hope to have in our Police Crime Commissioner.

Yours Sincerely,

Luton Council of Mosques
Luton Sunni Council of Mosques

Image source: Police and Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway. Digital image. Luton Conservatives. Web. 5 Jan 2018. <>