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Relationship Between Police and Muslim Individuals

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3667 words Published: 15th Sep 2017

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Shamma Alsuwaidi

Dataset being used:

2014-15 Crime Survey of England and Wales

Variable name of dependent variable:


Variable name of main independent variable:


Word count of this project¹:

2,672 words

X in box symbol

I have included my SPSS output as an appendix to this project

X in box symbolI am happy for an anonymised version of this project to be used for teaching purposes at the University of Kent  

My research question

In this project, I examine the relationship between police officers and individuals from different religious groups. I will examine whether Muslims encounter more disturbing and discriminatory experiences with the police, compared to those who follow different religions (Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and those who do not follow any religion). Accordingly, the dependent variable I will be using is: ‘really annoyed with the police’, while my independent variable will be: ‘Muslim’ religion.

Potential mechanisms linking police malpractice to Muslims

I selected these variables because in a post-9/11 civilisation, Muslims are increasingly becoming more segregated from societies as a result of the increased media attention to them. People began to fear Muslims and attempts to segregate them from society were made by many. Muslims are now perceived as an outsider group, a category of aggressive, extremist individuals, who pose a risk to ‘British’ lifestyles (Rowe, 2013). Although Islam is the most common religion amongst minorities, high rates of prejudice of Arabs and Muslims is evident in countries of the EU such as France and the UK. For instance, over 50% of people in Germany, France, and the UK identify and associate Muslims as radicals, aiming to promote their extreme religious beliefs (Jikeli, 2011).

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As a result, attitudes towards Muslims dramatically changed worldwide. Prejudice and hate spread, leading Arabs/Muslims to now face critical observation in every aspect of their lives. They can no longer travel, drive, and enjoy being out in public due to the discrimination they face in their everyday lives. In addition, instead of receiving support and protection from law enforcements, they are instead further victimised by them. Racial profiling, unjust treatment, unjustified investigations, harassment, and wrongful captures are now very common experiences between Muslims in European countries (Cainkar, 2002). In addition, it is not uncommon for an Arab to be ‘randomly’ selected for security checks at airports, and even be prohibited from flying due to such prejudice views. However, discrimination against those coloured and those who acquire divergent features than typical Europeans do occur as well; where gipsies (47%) and Africans (41%) experience higher levels of discrimination as well (Jikeli, 2011).

I expect that Muslims are more likely to find themselves in situations where they become irritated by the police, or unsatisfied with how the police deal with occurrences compared to those who follow other religions. This is because, at a time of increased awareness and fear of terrorism, and with socially and politically constructed images of Muslims, society would ultimately treat them in a hostile manner. As a result, members of the law enforcement are more likely to share the same views with society or would be inclined into targeting and eliminating any potential harm or threat of terrorism that could be caused to society. Therefore, the police would be more likely to be suspicious towards an Arab or Muslim.

Dependent variable

In my analysis, I used data collected from the 2014/15 Crime Survey of England and Wales, which surveys adults (16+) living in private residence in the UK. My dependent variable is ‘really annoyed by police’, which comes from the question:

“Have you ever been really annoyed about the way a police officer behaved towards you or someone you know. OR about the way the police handled a matter in which you were involved? This might have been a police officer or another member of police staff.”

1. Yes- towards respondent

2. Yes- towards someone else

3. Yes- towards both respondent and someone else

4. No

I am missing statistics on the frequency of police aggravation, since 24,806 out of 33,350 individuals did not respond to this question. Below is the frequency table of those who did respond:

Number of responses

Frequency (% of valid cases)










Table 1: Frequency table of police annoyance

Since the question gives respondents chances to respond in different yet similar ways, I modified the way in which responses are interpreted. For example:

* Yes: towards respondent │towards someone else │towards both respondent and someone else

I integrated the responses in order to simplify the data. Instead of having various categories of the “yes” responses, they would all be integrated into an individual “yes” group. Therefore, my dependent variable is respondents claiming themselves, another individual, or even both being irritated by any staff within the law enforcement agency. 25.8% of the valid respondents stated that they have been in an experience where they, and/or someone they know has been annoyed by the police, as shown in Table 1.

Main independent variable

The main independent variable I am manipulating is the Islam religion. This is derived from the Crime Survey of England and Wales (2014/15), which is built upon individual’s self- reported religion, at the time they took part in the questionnaire. The question is shown as the following:

“What is your religion, even if you are not currently practicing? CODE ONE ONLY


1. Christian (including Church of England, Catholic, Protestant, and all other Christian denominations)

2. Buddhist

3. Hindu

4. Jewish

5. Muslim

6. Sikh

7. Other (SPECIFY)

8. No religion

Here, I am missing 76 responses out of the total of 33,350 people who took part in the survey. These individuals either refused to answer or claimed they did not know the answer. A frequency table of the remaining respondents can be seen in Table 2:

Number of responses

Frequency (% of valid cases)










Table 2: Frequency table of Muslim respondents

As the question initially asks for their reported religions, I have created two distinct response categories. For instance, those with no self-reported religion, and those associated with other religions (Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhists), are categorised as “no”. Whereas, Muslims respondents are placed in the “yes” category. This is because I was interested in making a general comparison of Muslim and non-Muslim perception of the police, in order to carry out my analysis.

Control variables

In this section of my analysis, I added two further control variables, whether respondents live in urban or rural areas and their reported gender. Here, all 33,350 respondents answered the questions. This is achieved in order to explore other factors that could influence people to experience irritation from the actions or behaviour of the police.

Although there was no precise question presented to determine whether a place of residence is in a rural or urban area, respondents had to describe the features of their neighbourhoods and provide their address (postcode) on the survey. As a result, rural areas come to be defined as areas where the population is less than 10,000; communities where 7,567 (22.7%) of the respondents inhabit. However, exploring gender was based on the following question:


IF NECESSARY: Is (name) male or female?”

  1. Male
  2. Female

Here, the interviewer collects data on every member of a household, assuming their gender, unless they are uncertain. This data indicates that 45.1% (15,030) of the 33,350 respondents are males.

Analysis Part I:

In my first stage of analysis, I examine the pattern of irritation from the police, by association of the Islam religion. The link between being a Muslim and the likelihood of being annoyed by the police is analysed by using a Crosstabs, as shown in the table below:

Table 3: Link between police annoyance and Muslim religion

Have not been annoyed with police

Have been annoyed with police














Total number of respondents for this analysis: 8521

Although 24,829 people did not answer this question, Table 3 shows data based on the 8,521 individuals who did. 16.0% of Muslim respondents claimed that they encountered a situation where an officer annoyed them, or someone they knew, in comparison to 26.0% of non-Muslim respondents. In other words, Muslims are 10% less likely to claim to be annoyed with an officer of the law, than those of other religions; resulting in a different pattern than I predicted at the start of my analysis.

Analysis Part II: Is this pattern systematic?

Data suggests that members of the Muslim community are less likely to be annoyed by the way police handle situations than others. However, this could have resulted from the randomness of the sample, or randomness of how police members handle occurrences and behave towards people. So, I ran a regression with being annoyed with the police as the dependent variable, and being Muslim as an independent variable; to examine the pattern’s certainty. A table below discloses whether the pattern in systematic:

Coefficient (B)

95% confidence interval



0.251 to 0.270



-0.157 to -0.043

Table 4: Regression table of influence of police annoyance

In Table 4, we can see that the estimated effect correlates with the mean difference in the likelihood of being annoyed with the police, in the previous part; Muslims are -0.100 (-10%) less likely than those of other religions, to state that they have been ‘really annoyed’ with the police at one time. In addition, the regression table produces a confidence interval around this data; -0.157 to -0.043 (-15.7% to -4.3%). Since the figure (-0.100) lies between the confidence range, this data implies that we can be quite confident that Muslims experience lower levels of police annoyance, in a systematic manner:

  • If we could create 100 worlds, and re-run the patterns, the true value would lie within the range (-0.157 to -0.043) 95 out of 100 times. Which, therefore, suggests that being Muslim decreases an individual’s likelihood of being annoyed by the police, 10% less than those of other religions.
  • In addition, as both figures in the confidence intervals are negative and the range is narrow; this allows us to be quite confident that the pattern is systematic. However, we cannot be 100% certain.

Analysis Part III: Is this pattern causal?

There are other possible factors that could explain the correlation between Muslims and dissatisfaction in how police handle situations. These confounders vary from the mechanism I examined earlier; around police interactions around Muslims. For instance:

  • An individual’s area of residence could impact the way the police interact with them. It is more likely for those living in deprived areas to experience injustice from the police, and therefore, hold negative images of police officers. They are also more likely than those in urban areas to have issues with police officers, as their neighbourhoods are likely to have high rates of criminal activities. In addition, police staff may be prejudice against people living in rural areas, labelling them as criminals, and therefore, treating them in a different manner.
  • It could also be due to gender. As female criminality is not as common as those of men, police are known to focus on male suspects. Especially as there is a high rate of young male offenders in this century, male suspects are more likely to be annoyed by the police.

In order to test both hypotheses, a further regression was carried out, which includes neighbourhood area (urban) and gender (male) as control variables (as defined above).

Coefficient (B)

95% confidence interval



0.081 to 0.202

No religion


0.089 to 0.206



0.019 to 0.134



-0.088 to 0.111

Other religion


0.021 to 0.197

Lives in urban area


-0.039 to 0.005



0.054 to 0.091

Table 5: Regression model of influences of being annoyed by the police

We can see the impact of my control variables, as shown in Table 5:

  • Living in an urban area: living in urban the areas, is associated with a decrease in being annoyed by the police by 0.017 (1.7%). Although this effect seems minimal, it could increase dramatically depending on how rural/urban an area is labelled as. However, here, we cannot be confident that the pattern is systematic, due to the confidence interval containing positive and negative figures (-0.039 to 0.005).
  • Gender: males in the community are more likely than females to be annoyed with the police, or how they handled a situation; 7.3% (0.073). Here, we can be very certain that the pattern is systematic because the confidence interval range is very narrow.

In order to concentrate on my main area of interest, I pay particular attention to the difference in how the police deal with those of varying religions. We can analyse a contrast among both versions, in a chart shown below:

Coefficient (B)

95% confidence interval

Original model (no controls)


-0.157 to -0.043

Second model (with controls)


-0.157 to -0.042

Table 6: Comparison of effects of police annoyance on Muslims

This suggests that the gap in how police interact with those of different religions, is almost identical in both models; whereas, in the original model, Muslims are 10% (-0.100) less likely to have been annoyed by the police, and 9.9% less likely when controls are added. We can still be quite confident that Muslims are less likely to have been annoyed by the police, as the confidence intervals in both remain almost unchanged, and remain narrow. This indicates some proof of causality; however, we cannot be 100% confident.

While keeping reverse causality in mind, to further investigate whether there is a causal effect, we can be quite certain that it does not apply in this context. In other words, we would not infer that experiencing a dissatisfying experience with a member of the police causes an individual to become Muslim.

Limitations & conclusion

In this research, I researched whether Muslims are more likely to have been annoyed by a member of the police. I assumed that they would be more exposed to the negative experiences and qualities of the police force, especially after 9/11. A period where Muslims would be forced to endure discrimination by society and the justice system (random searches, presumptions of terrorism, etc.). However, I came to find that my presumption was incorrect.

I utilised the 2014-15 Crime Survey for England & Wales study. This typically involves a questionnaire that examines the degree of crime and victimisation in areas of England and Wales. From this survey, I discovered that:

Muslims are less likely to be in a situation, where they became irritated by the police, in comparison to Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and those who do not follow any religion. Also, I found that we can be quite convinced that the pattern is systematic.

When allowing for the possibility of alternative factors impacting Muslim’s experiences with the police, income and gender, the results of their experiences remains roughly identical. There is little or no possibility of reverse causality being possible in this context, as interactions with the police would not necessarily cause someone to follow a certain religion.

However, a few limitations can be found in this study, altering the way findings are gathered and construed. For instance, there could be other factors that clarify the link between being of Muslim religion and being irritated with the police. In this case, Muslims may be less likely to report their victimisation, especially reporting against a police officer. In addition, the Crime Survey for England & Wales may be less available to Muslims than those of other religions, creating a bias or unrepresentative sample.

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Another limitation is in the way the question is asked; “…towards you or someone you know”. This question includes others’ interactions with the police (“or someone you know”), therefore, although a respondent did not personally feel irritated by the police at a given point, the would report some form of police annoyance. Therefore, data collected could be inaccurate, as their responses could affect the way the statements are interpreted. As a result, data would suggest that those of other religions are more likely to have been annoyed by the police.

Although certainty of a causal effect is not definite, my inspection of the data indicates that a causal effect of religion (being Muslim) on how the police interact with individuals does exist, in some manner.


Cainkar, L. (2002). No Longer Invisible: Arab and Muslim Exclusion after September 11. Middle East Report, [Online] 32(224), pp. 22-23. Available from: http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=socs_fac [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Jikeli, G. (2011). DISCRIMINATION OF EUROPEAN MUSLIMS: SELF-PERCEPTIONS, EXPERIENCES AND DISCOURSES OF VICTIMHOOD. 1st edn. [ebook] Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 1-3. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gunther_Jikeli2/publication/289972827_Discrimination_of_European_Muslims_Self-Perceptions_Experiences_and_Discourses_of_Victimhood/links/56b2596708aed7ba3fedcded.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Rowe, M. (2013). Policing beyond Macpherson. 1st edn. Routledge, 2013, pp. 109-111.   


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