The man in charge of Preston police has shot down claims there are Muslim areas of the city seen by officers as “off-limits”.
The Daily Mail has reported that a Lancashire Police officer said: “There are Muslim areas of Preston that, if we wish to patrol, we have to contact local Muslim community leaders to get their permission.”
These claims were then repeated on Sky News, where it was also said officers had to take their uniforms off before going home, because of the fear of attacks.
But Chief Superintendent James Lee, South Division Commander for the force, said that the remarks were “absolute tosh”.
He said: “I’ve been here 10 years and this has never been the case.
“I very much doubt the person quoted by the Daily Mail was a Lancashire police officer, because it’s just not true.
I very much doubt the person quoted by the Daily Mail was a Lancashire police officer, because it’s just not trueChief Superintendent James Lee
“The police have a fantastic relationship with the Muslim community in Preston and we will carry out our work in the area as and when we need to without any problems.”
Regarding the uniform claims, Chf Sup Lee said: “It might be the case that some officers want to change before they go home, but it’s certainly not an official order.”
Ali Amla, the founder of Christian Muslim Encounters and Muslims Against Daesh, also slammed the claims as sensationalist and damaging to the city.
He said: “This is absolutely absurd. I speak to different members of the constabulary on a regular basis and it’s not the case at all.
“I research radicalisation and I would be the first person to know if there was a problem or any ‘no go areas’.
“It’s very damaging to have these things in the national media because it portrays Preston as a hot bed for terrorism when it isn’t.
“As this trickles through it will be picked up by the likes of the English Defence League and the North West Infidels who will think there’s a problem in Preston and want to come back.
“We’ve been very lucky here that we’ve only had one EDL demo in 2010 and one this year from the North West Infidels and we don’t want them back.
“We need to put the story straight - we have one of the most cohesive communities in Lancashire, and I’m very proud of that.”
Rachel Baines, chairman of Lancashire Police Federation, said: “My feelings are the same as the force on this, there are no such things as ‘no go’ areas for police, certainly in Preston.
“I would like to know where this has come from, because I’ve had no officers contacting me with any concerns about it.”
She added: “As for the uniforms, that’s been advice since I joined the police 22 years ago. It’s about officer safety and people who are not happy about the law being enforced, but this is not specifically about the Muslim community.”
The Daily Mail was contacted for a comment, but did not respond.
The claims come after US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that areas of London were ‘no go zones’ for the police.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police slammed his remarks, saying he “could not be more wrong” when he claimed that parts of London were so radicalised the officers feared for their lives.