Response to media coverage of comments made at the Strategic Police and Crime Commissioner’s Board

We understand that following the Strategic Police and Crime Commissioner’s Board on Tuesday 19 January, comments that Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward have been misrepresented.

ACC Ward was asked a question on India-related terrorism, to which he responded. Unfortunately only part of his response has featured in media which has caused tension within some communities as this was not a fair reflection of what he said.

ACC Ward’s full response below provides reassurance that we do not pursue people based on their beliefs or their religion.

“There are extremist organisations within India who seek an independent Sikh homeland – the Khalistan. Seeking an independent homeland isn’t extremist but there are some groups who try to use violence to be able to do that. Some of those organisations have representatives within the UK and within the WM, because we have a very significant Sikh community, it is not surprising we’ve got a small minority of individuals who have shown some extremist views within the UK.

“So we work very closely again with both UK partners and international partners that wherever we identify those risks we take the necessary proportionate action to tackle those and there has been activity we have taken as West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit to target those who use extremist views. It is relatively limited, it is relatively small, it can have a wider community impact and we have seen where we have taken action in the past we have seen a small minority of people protest taking place but it is important we don’t deny there are small numbers of individuals who have these views and if you are planning terrorist attacks anywhere in the world outside of the UK that is an offence in the United Kingdom that we along with our partners will investigate and if there is evidence we will prosecute.

“Counter terrorism is not about what people believe and we don’t investigate people for their beliefs, we investigate those who propagate violence that is ultimately what we are trying to do. So those who are seeking violence to enforce their beliefs that’s when we get involved not because of what people believe in.”

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