– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2019.
4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to improve the relationship between the police and the Kurdish community. (S5O-02802)
Police Scotland is committed to building positive relationships with all of Scotland’s communities. Responsibility for that lies with the chief constable. However, the Scottish Government understands that Police Scotland has engaged recently with representatives of the Kurdish community to address concerns that have been raised by some of its members. I also understand that Police Scotland has engaged directly with Ross Greer, in his capacity as co-convener of the Parliament’s cross-party group on Kurdistan.
The cabinet secretary might be aware that police operations over recent years have resulted in members of the Kurdish community being afraid to attend their own community centres and no longer sending their children to language and dancing classes for fear of them being monitored. That is an unacceptable and unsustainable situation. Will the cabinet secretary agree to a meeting with representatives of the Kurdish community and the cross-party group on Kurdistan to discuss how we can improve relations and trust between the community and the police?
I am more than happy to engage with Ross Greer and members of the Kurdish community. He will understand that I cannot do so in relation to any live police investigations but, on the wider issue, I am more than happy to meet him, in his role as the co-convener of the cross-party group, to hear the community’s anxieties and concerns.
Over a number of years, I have engaged with Police Scotland over concerns that I, as a young Asian male and a member of the Muslim community, have had. Having been stopped and searched on numerous occasions in my younger days, when I was growing up, for no apparent reason, I know that it has taken time for Police Scotland to build back up a level of trust with the Muslim community. That takes hard work and effort. I know that the chief constable is absolutely committed to ensuring positive community relations.
Ross Greer can continue to engage directly with Police Scotland. I am more than happy to assist with that, when I can, and to listen to concerns.