Police Contribution To Jewish Community Recognised
Wednesday 9 March, 2016
The contribution of West Yorkshire Police to the Jewish community was recognised at an event organised by leading members of the local community at an event last month.
At a Sabbath service, held at the Etz Chaim Synagogue on February 27, the synagogue, the Leeds Jewish Representative Council, and the Jewish Police Association came together to recognise the work of the Force to protect and assist the Jewish community. The service also provided an opportunity for public appreciation for the work of the Community Security Trust (CST) in continuing to keep the community and community buildings safe and secure.
The event was attended by the Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins, the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, other senior police officers, neighbourhood officers, and Hate Crime Co-ordinators. Significantly, the event was the first time that any police service and CST have been the subject of such a public acknowledgement of their work.
The Jewish Police Association were represented by Inspector Tim Williams from the Metropolitan Police and National Chair of the Jewish Police Association, and Simon Phillips, West Yorkshire Police Jewish Police Association representative.
Guests had the opportunity to learn more about the format of the Shabbat service, and Jewish beliefs and practices as part of their commitment to understanding the diversity of the communities served by West Yorkshire Police.
Speaking at a reception after the service, the Temporary Chief Constable expressed her gratitude at the Force being honoured in such a way, and the many things that she had learned about Judaism in the run-up to the day as well as the service itself. "I was delighted to have been invited as a guest to the Etz Chaim Synagogue in Moortown, Leeds on Saturday to celebrate the Sabbath service in recognition of the close community ties West Yorkshire Police have fostered with the Jewish community. It was a privilege to meet so many people that support and work closely with the Police ensuring a safer more understanding local community. I would like to thank all those that made this such an enjoyable occasion and I look forward to maintaining our close working relationship".
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, delivering his appreciation to the community said: "I am honoured to have been part of the first ever Sabbath ceremony to thank the West Yorkshire Police Service and police in the UK. The police do fantastic work in their communities and it is very much appreciated it has been recognised in this way for the first time in West Yorkshire by our Jewish community. It is crucial that we listen to our local communities and learn about their experiences and what matters to them, this service is all part of that, and a great way to engage directly with them at a special occasion".
The Jewish Police Association provide a network for support and advice to Jewish personnel within the Police Service; promote understanding of the Jewish faith within the Police Service; act as a resource reference for Police Services regarding religious, cultural and community issues, and in particular those that affect front-line policing; and actively promote the Police Service as an employer of choice for the Jewish community. In this last respect, Simon Phillips explained that the service also provide the opportunity to highlighted the Force’s police officer recruitment campaign, particularly as the community are under-represented as a proportion of the total Jewish population of the UK.
Noting how the Jewish Police Association play an important part in external community engagement as much as providing an internal support mechanism, Simon highlighted the motto of West Yorkshire Police ‘In the Public Service’. "If the police service have a vision of delivering a first-class and equal service to all members of the public, a respect for race and diversity amongst fellow officers and staff is crucial. Organisations with whom the Jewish Police Association associate, including the Association of Muslim Police, Black Police Association, Gay Police Association and the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association, are integral to providing the knowledge to develop meaningful and trusting relationships with diverse communities".
Members of the Force who attended have already expressed an interest in follow-up visits to the shul, particularly with young people to help demonstrate the importance of community cohesion and relations.