Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham Muslim boycott of police called off

Rotherham Police station
Image caption The boycott was called off after community groups held talks with the police and crime commissioner and the town's MP

A boycott of "engagement" with the police by some Muslim groups in Rotherham has been called off.

Rotherham Muslim Community Forum Alliance (RMCFA) announced it would "cut all lines of engagement" with South Yorkshire Police on Monday.

The RMCFA claimed that Muslims in the town had felt "demonised" since the publication of the 2014 Jay report.

The report said 1,400 children suffered sexual abuse predominantly by men of Pakistani-heritage.

Community group British Muslim Youth (BMY) announced the boycott on behalf of the RMCFA, claiming Islamaphobia was at "unprecedented levels in Rotherham" and Muslims felt "unprotected" by police.

'Drastic measure'

Announcing the calling off of the action, Muhbeen Hussain, founder and director of the BMY said that an agreement had been reached between the Muslim community.

Image caption Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said she was "very pleased" that the issue had been raised, but was "not sure that a boycott is the right way forward."

Local Labour MP Sarah Champion and South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings are to "develop a strategy" to address the issue of hate crimes.

Mr Hussain described the boycott as a "desperate and drastic measure".

"Nobody took this measure lightly," he said

"But we needed the engagement and the route to dialogue to hear the concerns of many ordinary Muslims facing huge hate crimes."

Dr Billings said he was pleased the boycott had been called off and that the RMCFA had "accepted an invitation to work together to improve community cohesion within the town."

Sarah Champion said she was concerned at reports that local Muslims were not reporting racist attacks to the police.

She said: "I am optimistic that there is now an opportunity to start a positive and productive working relationship between the Rotherham Muslim community, South Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner to tackle this vile crime head on. "

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