An update from Barnet Council on community safety issues arising from conflict in the Middle East
Friday 20 October 2023
Following a meeting yesterday (19 October) with members of our Jewish communities organised by the London Jewish Forum, Barnet Council and the Metropolitan Police would like to update you on what we are doing to support you at this time.
We know the conflict in the Middle East is taking a massive toll on Barnet’s Jewish communities and we know that you may be worried about the safety of your family and friends.
The Police have asked us to make clear that they are listening to and working with London’s communities and partners and increased patrols to provide a visible presence and reassurance. Additional Police officers are patrolling the streets, especially in areas where communities feel particularly vulnerable. Ahead of planned protests and vigils, the Police are liaising with organisers to strike a balance between supporting lawful protest and preventing criminal activity.
Alongside this message, Superintendent Dan Knowles of the Metropolitan Police has issued a letter to the communities of Barnet, Brent and Harrow about their policing approach in the boroughs to reassure and allay concerns.
We would like to reassure you that Barnet Council, the Police and the Community Security Trust are in regular contact to ensure we target our resources most effectively. Extra resources are being deployed in the borough, particularly around sensitive areas such as synagogues and schools.
We are also communicating through all our channels that we will not tolerate hate crime and that the Police will take action wherever they can.
We will be convening another larger meeting for our Jewish communities next week, to check what else we can do to support you. We will invite community leaders and representatives of schools, shuls and charities to attend.
Barnet Council stands with those affected by the unfolding tragedy in the Middle East. To mark our solidarity, we have flown the Israeli flag at half-mast from Hendon Town Hall, as well as lit up the building. At our online Barnet Question Time with the council’s Cabinet yesterday evening (Thursday 19 October), we held a one-minute silence to reflect on events and put those who have lost their lives foremost in our thoughts. A one-minute silence was also held at the start of this week’s full council meeting.
Anyone who experiences or witnesses threatening behaviour – including online - should report it to the Police, who will take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime. Alternatively, you can report it to one of the independent hate crime reporting centres in Barnet. You can also report it to True Vision, run by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Community Security Trust (CST) and, of course, Shomrim. In an emergency, always dial 999.
In line with advice from the Police and Community Security Trust, please do not share rumours. We urge caution when sharing news and updates on social media and messaging apps. Make sure any information comes from a reliable source, such as the Government, Police or Community Security Trust. For the latest trusted updates on social media, follow @metpoliceuk and @CST_UK.
Letter from Dan Knowles, Chief Superintendent, BCU Commander, North West BCU (Barnet, Brent and Harrow)
19 October 2023
Dear Local Community Members,
I wanted to share some key updates regarding the policing approach following the Hamas orchestrated terrorist attacks in Israel on 7th October. My thoughts continue to be with the entirety of the Jewish Community devastated by these attacks. Furthermore, my thoughts are extended to Jewish and Muslim Communities who are now enduring a war in Gaza, with a growing number of people being harmed. Whilst I understand the war is between Israel and Hamas, I recognise peaceful Jews and Muslims are being killed and injured amongst the developing conflict.
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks there was anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media. Combined with the gravity of the Hamas terrorist attack, I consciously escalated policing numbers to predominantly reassure Jewish Communities regarding their protection, safety and security. Even in the absence of specific intelligence, this was deemed appropriate, aiming to instil community confidence for Jews to freely go about Jewish life.
Furthermore, anti-Semitic crime and disorder (mostly verbal abuse and use of flags) did increase in the days that followed. Reported crimes were relatively small in number, although I fully agree one is one too many. Recognising the lasting effect of anti-Semitism, I enhanced patrols.
We have now also seen an increase in Islamophobia. We have communicated with Islamic faith leads and community contacts. We have further enhanced visible presence in support of safety and community confidence, recognising the impact of Islamophobia.
We have maintained a policing position of being swift and thorough in relation to all forms of hate crime, and I am proud of the consistency with which Met teams have responded quickly and investigated thoroughly to date.
To date my teams have provided 850 individual engagement contacts with community members at Faith Premises, Schools, Business Premises and other locations. We are currently averaging 115 engagements per day, balancing security reassurance with approachable crime prevention.
This week, I have added to our already enhanced dedicated patrols. On Friday, this will give additional visible presence for pre-Shabbat shopping. We will be visibly engaging with Muslim Community Members around afternoon prayers. I have further enhanced the number of officers brought to duty for Shabbat on Saturday, focusing on key areas around Synagogues.
Throughout this week I have support of our specialist colleagues who will be visible at times, when not called away for operational service. Please do not be concerned if you see colleagues from our Force Firearms Command and Public Order Reserve. They are friendly and are there for reassurance, not in response to intelligence. All policing will be in addition to our ongoing efforts to deliver more trust, less crime and high standards across frontline policing.
I am grateful for the overwhelming majority of our public in coming together to support each other and show there is no place for hate amongst the entirety of our communities. I ask that all our communities continue to come together in support of peace across Barnet, Brent and Harrow.
Please do continue to report matters of crime and intelligence through the usual services of 999 (emergencies), 101 (non-emergencies), and 0800 555 111 (Crimestoppers). I am aware this letter may be circulated with other support services and contacts also. I am grateful for those volunteering in their communities to further support peace, safety and reassurance.
There remains, to my knowledge, no specific intelligence in relation to Barnet, Brent or Harrow. I hope by detailing our plans and efforts to date you feel reassured to go about your lives as normally and peacefully as possible.
BCU Commander, North West BCU (Barnet, Brent and Harrow)