The Many Faiths of Southall


If you visited Southall in the 1920s, you would hear Welsh accents. People moved from Wales in search of work, and gravitated together. Southall today sees an area where 55% of the population identify as Indian or Pakistani. The sing song of the Welsh language has been replaced by the languages of south-east Asia. In Southall Broadway ward, 93.7% of census respondents identified as black or minority ethnic (BME). This is the highest proportion in Britain. The same census reported that around 300 people stated they were of no religion.

Southall is a town of faith. There are ten Sikh Gurdwaras. The Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha is one of the largest outside India. There are two large Hindu Temples, with the Ram Mandir in Old Southall being the oldest Hindu Temple in Britain. There are ten Christian Churches and three Mosques.

To police Southall is a unique experience. Events here can have resonance across the globe. What may seem a minor incident in the streets of Southall can have a major impact on the streets of India. That is why it is so important to listen. With listening comes learning, and an understanding of deep cultural issues.

A key component of gaining the trust of the public is to break down barriers. Some people are not confident in spoken English – We have officers with the necessary language skills so people can communicate in the language they feel most confident in using. We have crime prevention leaflets printed in the languages of Southall. We are developing ways of spreading this service to our online resources.

People do not feel confident to come into a police station, or to stop an officer on the street. We run police events in faith premises. We have been welcomed into Gurdwaras, Temples, Mosques and Churches to engage directly with the congregations in a place our communities feel most comfortable. We have engagement events in schools and shopping centers to make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak to us, including those who do not follow a particular religion. A question not asked becomes a misunderstanding. Our policing is open and transparent. We want you to know what we are doing and why. We want you to let us know what you expect your local police to be doing.

The faiths of Southall express themselves through religious events throughout the year. These are joyous family events, and do not require a traditional policing response. This does not mean that Southall Police do not support these events. I have engaged with a number of faith associations within the police service. I have arranged for police officers from across London from various faith groups to support our events. During the Sikh Vaisakhi event, a number of Sikh officers from all over London came to Southall to engage with attendees. We will be doing the same with forthcoming events from other faiths over the course of the year.

Sir Robert Peel was the founder of the Metropolitan Police Service. One of his founding principles was:

‘To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.’

This founding principle continues today.


Picture courtesy of James Merry




Not just here for the nasty things in life


This is Barbara. She is with the Revd Anna Poulson at St John’s Church in Southall. Barbara was a repeat victim of burglary and became frightened to leave her home. She wasn’t able to go to church.

That was when Sergeant Justin Petty got involved. He called in Sergeant Guy Rooney and his team from Norwood Green SNT. They provided all the crime prevention advice and assistance they could, but Barbara still lacked the confidence to go out.

The team had done all that could be reasonably expected of them. They’d met their targets, done the prevention work, set an investigation in motion.

They still wanted to help Barbara. She wasn’t going to regain her confidence on her own. So they took simple steps to make things better – they drove Barbara to church and looked after her home for her whilst she was away.

This is an example of the importance of local policing. It doesn’t meet targets or save money. It does something far more important – it makes Barbara feel safe again.

The Essence of Safer Neighbourhoods


There is a lot more to police work than arresting criminals. This is especially the case in the world of Safer Neighborhoods.  We don’t shy away from taking people into custody – that is a key role for any police officer – but we have a long-term view as well.

What led this person into crime? What other options did they have? What made them confident to commit the offence? Was it the location, the area? People he associates with?

Communities have a right to go about their day-to-day business without fear of becoming a victim of crime. Although crime is falling year on year, I am very aware that people’s fears are not based on raw statistics. If people believe they might be burgled, if they believe their children might get bullied on their way home from school, if they cross the road to avoid a group of young men in hooded tops, the people have a fear of crime. The police have a duty to reduce this fear of crime, to make neighbourhoods safer.

The police do not work in isolation. We cannot reduce the fear of crime without the support of local people. Open and honest communication is the key. To prevent misunderstanding we need people to have the confidence to speak to us, the confidence to pick up the phone, to send an e-mail, to come to our meetings and ask the questions they want us to answer.

Direct and open communication is the key to long-term problem solving for us. Working with the community allows us to gain trust, to show we are approachable and trustworthy. This is why the work of Safer Neighbourhoods Teams is so key to addressing the long term issues that effect us all. If we can intervene and deter crime at an early stage, we can make a difference to quality of life. We can work with people at risk of crime to make sure they have all the support they need, we can work with those likely to fall into criminality and offer them other pathways. We work with the community and for the community.

It all starts with a cup of tea.




A Temple visit

Hindu temple visit

On Friday we visited Shree Ram Mandir in King Street Southall as the guests of Mr Umesh Sharma. This was as part of our ongoing project to engage more with our faith communities. We will be holding regular police surgeries in faith premises across Southall so visitors can have a chat with their local police and raise any concerns they may have.

People might be a bit put off by our traditional methods of contact. Southall Police Station isn’t the most inviting place, despite the recent splash of paint. The Met has a big online presence, and you can report crime that way, but the internet isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t like to use the phone either. It’s our job to support the community so we are coming to you!

We have also held these events at Ealing Hospital, and will be doing so again. We had a separate event in the outpatients ward at St Bernard’s Hospital which helps people with mental health issues. I’m pretty confident that was the first event of its kind! It is important to remember that people with mental health issues are just as entitled to engage with their police service as anyone else.

The only stumbling block is the name police surgeries – Not the best, and a bit confusing within a hospital. Thinking caps are on….


I like to learn something new everyday – Mr Sharma told me that the Shree Ram Mandir is the oldest Hindu Temple in London, dating back to the late sixties. Good fact. They will be holding their biggest event on Sunday 14th August, Shree Krishan Janamashtmi. We will be there supporting the event with our good friends from the Met Police Hindu Association.


My first blog post

My name is Paul Byrne – I have the honour of being in charge of Southall Local Policing Teams.

Southall is part of the London Borough of Ealing in west London. It is one of the most vibrant parts of the capital, home to a diverse community drawn from all corners of the globe. Many languages are spoken, and many religions followed.

I want people who live in Southall to feel able to go about their day to day business without fear of crime. This goes for the many visitors we have – Those who come to work, those who come to shop. I can only achieve this with the support of the community. This blog has been set up to increase communication and to open dialogue with all interested parties.

I hope this blog will provide some insight into policing Southall and beyond. Please feel free to contribute!

Sensational Southall

Information about Southall Police can be found here

Report crime online here