By Ibrahim, CAGE Caseworker
At the CAGE casework desk, we’ve been getting an increasing number of calls from people reporting a form of harassment known as door-stepping. It is when police come knocking on people’s doors unannounced.
There is nothing quite like the knock of the police: loud, urgent, and repeated. But the long- term effect of these “visits” is even worse than the initial shock of entry.
The first emotion people experience in relation to this kind of behaviour by police is fear. This is especially true when there are elderly people in the home. It can cause them undue stress and anxiety which results in them unable to have a good nights’ sleep and impacts their health in the long term.
We’ve heard how innocent individuals, who have never been concerned with any crime at all, are being door-stepped based on spurious claims. One client was door-stepped for taking pictures at a lake while out on a walk. A member of the public had found this “suspicious” and reported them to the police.
I wonder if the police would have even bothered following up this complaint if the person in question had not been identified by the complainant as a Muslim?
Another client told us: ““For me to be visited at my house, for attending a Marvel event, to be questioned by police at my doorstep, about what I was doing there and why I was taking pictures of Iron Man, shows how deep the discrimination against Muslims is in our society.”
It is quite clear to us that police are abusing their authority in these instances.
It would be very revealing to investigate these police door-stepping exercises, and see if they have been logged, and then checking how frequently these visits have occurred to certain homes and in what areas – and how many of them targeted Muslim households.
This is something we will certainly be taking a more keen interest in..
I believe as a community we need to take a stand together before it becomes a norm for police to come and knock at our houses for the most ridiculous reasons.
This is because, as it becomes more common, it then starts to be seen as “part of the norm” – like other state policies, it may lead to Muslims accepting and believing that it’s okay, when it is not.
As a caseworker at CAGE, I’ve seen the long-term effects of door-stepping. Firstly, innocent people are being told they have done something wrong when they have not, and the burden rests on them to prove otherwise.
This puts the person on the back foot. It can also be so convincing that a person starts believing they are guilty, self-analysing and even self-censoring themselves.
Another way the impact of such visits manifests, is creating suspicion within the family unit.
Some parents view the intervention of people in positions of authority as evidence of wrongdoing, even though no crime has been committed by their children or grandchildren.
This sows seeds of doubt around the family table. The person who was door-stepped begins to feel like the problematic person in the family.
I wonder if the police, with their baseless suspicions, are deliberately seeking these outcomes?
We know that the deepest and most important feelings of security begin with trust in the home – and we must not let anything undermine that.
Have you or anyone you know been door-stepped by the police or have faced the brunt of ‘counter-terrorism’ laws? If so, then please contact our caseworkers for advice and support: 0300 030 2243
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)