BRADFORD (UK) COURTS'
trail blazers in UK Court system.
Latif Mir of the Bradford Court Chaplaincy says he is the first and, currently, only Muslim chaplain in the UK Court System. Supported by about 30 trained volunteers from all walks of life, Latif and two other salaried chaplains, one from the Salvation Army and one a non-stipendiary priest in the Church of England, provide a full-time service for people attending Court, from any or no faith.
"Not all those attending Court know what a chaplaincy service is," says Latif, "what we do is to provide support in a person's hour of need." It is a free service for all, which is available for any court user - except jurors - from judiciary, to witnesses, victims, to police officer, legal representatives, Court staff, defendants, and their family. The service is confidential, non-judgemental, and does not give legal advice.
Latif is Sunni. He was educated in Greater Manchester, where he memorised the whole of the Koran in Arabic by age of 21.
Each of the three chaplains has a mentor who is a magistrate. Signposting is offered to further relevant support services accessible via the State and charities.
Initially the service was the idea of magistrates, in particular of Mary Carroll JP, who wanted to tackle the underlying issues causing offending behaviour. Its aspirations have now expanded beyond that original remit.
Muslim prayers are said each Friday in the Crown Court, though anyone may participate. It is irrelevant whether those praying are Muslim, Sikh, Hindhu, Jewish, Christian, or of no faith. Latif can explain a respectful code of conduct to the non-Muslim participants at the Friday service*.
The formal prayers on Friday, led by Latif, are in Arabic, because, he told Science, People & Politics, "The Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), tells us that our [those practising Islam] prayers must be in Arabic."
Universal prayers in English are offered in the Magistrates' Court.
In each of the Bradford courts there are multi-faith rooms.
Currently the chaplaincy is formally expanding their service into the civil Courts.
"No international links with chaplaincies in other countries yet exist," says Latif, "though groups around the UK have shadowed our work, and transposed some of our ideas into their demographic."
*I would like to thank Latif Mir for feedback on this short article, and to thank him and his congregation for welcoming me by prior arrangement to the Friday prayers on 27th March, 2015. My interaction with Latif was in my capacity as an editor, publisher and journalist. Blog circulated to the editorial advisors of Science, People & Politics prior to publication. Helen Gavaghan.
Interview by Helen Gavaghan at Bradford Crown Court, 23rd March, 2015. Letters of correction to The Editor, Science, People & Politics, 165 Longfellow Court, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, HX7 5LG, UK.
The following text and additions added by the editor, Helen Gavaghan, on Monday 30th March, 2015.
Science, People & Politics is a humanities quarterly, aimed at scientists and politicians internationally. Its intent is to build bridges between science and humanities, and has the intent to work against causes of war.
The title was founded by Helen Gavaghan in September 2005, and acquired the ISSN 1751-598x (online), in June 2006. Science, People and Politics Ltd., Co. No 05901911, owns the magazine, Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751 598x (online).
The publisher, to whom the ISSN is issued, is Helen Gavaghan, who trades also as GavaghanCommunications (VAT 107 5264 30). The company, Science, People and Politics Ltd., founded also by Helen Gavaghan, is registered in England, with registered office address of 165 Longfellow Court, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, HX7 5LG. The company's shareholders are Helen Gavaghan and Fred Pearce, and the company's executive director is Helen Gavaghan. The current shareholders have a binding verbal agreement that Martin Redfern will be a shareholder. The company's purpose is protection of IP published in the magazine, and of such other IP as the publisher, Helen Gavaghan, acting externally to the company, voluntarily transfers to the company.
Helen Gavaghan has been a journalist and editor since graduation from the University of Leeds in 1980. She has worked in business, commerce, trade, international science and biomedical journalism, and has covered technology, medical devices and diagnostics, politics/policy relating to science, defence, energy, aerospace and the environment nationally and internationally. She is a non-fiction author published in New York and Germany. She is now an editor and journalist for Science, People & Politics, and a freelance journalist and publishing entrepreneur. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Leeds (1976-1980), her post-graduate research at the University of Manchester (2002-2004), and she has extensive continuing professional development taught by HMRC, Business Link, Calderdale College, UKTI, and the University of Bradford.
URL visited and administrative information amended 14th April, 2015 by editor, Helen Gavaghan.