Gwent Police have set up a 'mini police unit' in a Blaenau Gwent mosque.
It is the first of its kind in Wales and the UK, and is the latest development in a 'Heddlu Bach' programme to encourage 'public-spiritedness' in young children, which on the face of it would seem to be a good thing.
As part of the recruitment process, the children are required to take an oath - which includes being a 'role model for Gwent Police' - before being awarded certificates by the Chief Constable, Pam Kelly, and the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Eleri Thomas MBE.
The police oath of office, in full, is as follows - “I, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of constable with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, and that I will uphold fundamental human rights and accord equal respect to all people, according to law.”
However, it has been reported that the new 'Heddlu Bach' recruits will formulate their own priorities as part of the programme, including visiting schools to talk about the Islamic faith - that is, to proselytise on behalf of Islam.
There is a clear conflict of interest here, as the police are supposed to be impartial - and more importantly, to be seen to be impartial, and if these children are required to be 'role models for Gwent Police' then this impartiality must be upheld.
There should be a clear separation of the powers of church and state - and allowing the Islamic community to develop a formal association with the police in this way is a huge mistake which will do nothing for 'community cohesion' and everything to stoke an entirely justified resentment in the majority non-Muslim population.
We demand that Gwent Police forbid the recruits to proselytise on behalf of Islam in any way whatsoever, and to relocate their 'mini police unit' to a location where there can be no suggestion of undue bias towards the Islamic community.
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