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Police pledge hard line against racial crime

RACE hate crime will not be tolerated - this is the message from Hertfordshire Police this week in the wake of military action against Afghanistan.

Just days after St Albans MP Kerry Pollard commended the police, led by Chief Inspector Dave Moor, in working alongside leaders in the Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Moroccan communities in the city, police chiefs have warned heightened tension following strikes on the Taliban regime "must not be used as an excuse for criminal acts of violence or racism".

Aware that racial tension could be heightened during the conflict Hertfordshire Constabulary called for "calm" this week.

Following the catastrophe in New York Chief Inspector Moor and his community team in the constabulary's central area spoke with members of St Albans' Muslim community offering reassurance and high visibility policing to prevent revenge attacks and "race hate crime".

His words were echoed by Assistant Chief Constable Jim Nicolson this week, responsible for community policing in Hertfordshire. He said: "We appreciate many groups within out communities will be feeling vulnerable at this time and they need to be reassured the Constabulary is working hard to protect them.

"We are also ready to respond to any threats or attacks should they occur.

"Our concern at this time is to deter any potential terrorist incidents and ensure the county continues to be a safe place in which to live and work."

And on Friday, prior to the start of America and Britain's bombing campaign against Afghanistan on Sunday, Hertfordshire Constabulary announced it had set up an information gathering unit at its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City and officers were continuing to maintain close links with ethnic minority groups in St Albans, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Bishop's Stortford.

This work is also being supported by the Watford Racial Equality Council (WREC) and leaders of the Herts Black and Ethnic Minority Alliance.

Director of WREC Shahnaz Mirza said: "We have been working closely with the police and both the police and ourselves have been asked by the Home Office and the Commission for Racial Equality to gather information of any incidents to help build a national picture."

He added that the public needed to be educated about the incident in the US and said everyone, from every community was "angry about the lives that had been lost".

He added: "There were 900 Muslims killed, that's something people aren't talking about."

Assistant Chief Constable Nicolson added: "Race hate crime will not be tolerated."

A hotline has also been established by police for anyone who has witnessed anything suspicious, or who has information that could be terrorist related on 01707 354743.

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