Parts of the UK are becoming no-go areas for police because minority communities are operating their own justice systems, according to the Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
The rise in ‘community justice’ means crimes as serious as murder and sexual abuse are going unreported – a situation reminiscent of Belfast in the height of the Troubles.
Tom Winsor said police officers were simply never called to some neighbourhoods, where law-abiding people rather than criminals administer their own form of justice
He said: ‘There are some communities born under other skies who will not involve the police at all. I am reluctant to name the communities in question, but there are communities from other cultures who would prefer to police themselves.
‘There are cities in the Midlands where the police never go because they are never called. They never hear of any trouble because the community deals with that on its own.
‘It’s not that the police are afraid to go into these areas or don’t want to go into those areas,’ he said. ‘But if the police don’t get calls for help then, of course, they won’t know what’s going on.’
Honour killings, domestic violence, sexual abuse of children and female genital mutilations are some of the offences that are believed to be unreported in some cities.
Last December, three members of a self-styled ‘Muslim Patrol’ vigilante group were jailed for harassing, intimidating and assaulting people in East London while claiming they were enforcing sharia law.
In an interview with The Times, Mr Winsor said: ‘It could be anything. [Honour killings] are the most extreme case. That is murder. There is no honour in it.’ Tory MP Douglas Carswell said the rising number of unreported crimes was a damning indictment of our police.
He told the Mail last night: ‘Directly elected police commissioners are an attempt to give people a direct say over the way people are policed. Elsewhere the administering of justice often is ineffective and there is a great deal of incompetence in the system.
‘People don’t feel they can count on their police. Instead of placing blame with ethnic minorities, we should ask what it is that is wrong with the criminal justice system.’
Although Mr Winsor did not specifically refer to any ethnic group, there have been growing concerns over the emergence of sharia courts in some Muslim communities.
Senior police officers said they disagreed with the description given by Mr Winsor, who became chief inspector in October 2012. He is the first person from a non-police background to hold the post.
But Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said: ‘I don’t know if he’s talking about Birmingham, but I have only had one conversation with him since he took office and it wasn’t about this.
‘His characterisation of these communities as born under other skies is just wrong. Many members of communities in Birmingham are British-born and I find that a very odd expression.’
Mr Winsor insisted that public trust in the police needed to be restored for a functioning justice system.
He said the police ‘are not a paramilitary force – they are citizens in uniform’.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘We all rely on the police to protect our communities and this can be only done through full co-operation and partnership.
‘Co-operation is particularly important for Muslim communities who have experienced a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes.’