THE Muslim community expressed their concerns about the fall out of Operation Ribbon to community leaders during a conference on Tuesday.
The Dosti group – which offers support and advice to women – held a summit at Buckinghamshire New University to discuss a range of topics, but it was dominated by Thames Valley Police’s Operation Ribbon.
The 50-strong, largely female Muslim audience was given a presentation by Supt Gilbert Houalla, Wycombe Area Commander, about the series of raids in which nine men were arrested in connection to the alleged sexual exploitation of a young girl in the town.
Supt Houalla said: “It’s important that when child exploitation is reported, we investigate it thoroughly...otherwise it could cause great damage to communities and a lack of confidence in the police.
“The real challenge is we need people to report this type of crime and for that there needs to be trust and confidence in the police.
“I am not just talking about the Muslim community; I am talking about all communities. I hope the events of the last few weeks will give you that confidence.”
Community advocate Zia Ullah also addressed the audience and said Operation Ribbon had “polarised” Wycombe’s Muslim community.
He said: “The fears I have heard are of mothers taking their daughters out of school and taking away their mobile phones.
“It’s having a huge fear effect on the community...All the families concerned are being alienated by the community and they need support.”
Wycombe District Council’s ward member for Castlefield and Oakridge, Cllr Rachel Knight, and an NHS representative also gave speeches about empowering women and how residents can keep themselves healthy.
Organiser Naz Akhtar said: “It went really well, we got an email from Supt Houalla to thank us for inviting him to listen to the concerns.
“It was about building bridges and we got a lot of positive feedback.”