Police officers in Kirklees will be taking part in an Islam Awareness program believed to be the first of its kind in the UK. Front line PCs and PCSOs are to begin a series of six separate sessions at four different mosques across the district. It will involve increasing their understanding of the Islamic faith as well as forging local contacts. The first of the sessions will begin at the Jamia Mosque in Heckmondwike on 13 January where the Batley and Birstall, Spen Valley and Huddersfield South Neighbourhood Policing Teams will undertake the training. Kirklees Police Diversity Manager, Steve Bedford believes it will be a positive experience for everybody. He said: “The day is an informal introduction to some local mosques and the Islamic faith. It is not anticipated, nor intended to be a full insight into Islam and the day is structured to provide an opportunity to learn basic greetings and an understanding of some of the issues which operational staff may face. “They will learn how to identify particular issues and prevent any misunderstandings or insensitivity through lack of awareness or understanding. “There is also an opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment and an opportunity to meet the mosque imam.” Chief Inspector Ian Gayles who oversees Neighbourhood Policing Teams within Kirklees said the initiative was a continuation of similar training which took place last year.
It is also hoped that similar arrangements will be made at churches, gurudwaras and Hindu temples.
“This is an opportunity to break down barriers and for our officers to learn more about the Islamic faith itself. If we are able to provide our officers with a better knowledge of a particular faith, then it will no doubt reflect on the service we provide to the public,” said Mr Gayles. Spokesperson for the mosques, Mohammed Khalil is also backing the programme.