Reaching Out to Keep the Faith in Humanity

November 20, 2006


Source: The Herald

DURING his 30 years in the police, Chief Inspector Tom Harrigan liked the title of community relations officer - certainly more than race relations officer. After all, he says: "We're all one race."

As a young officer in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, he was called in by his superior one day and accused of being a "grey man". It spurred him on to raise his profile - and as a result he enjoyed one of the most colourful careers in the Scottish police.

Brought up a Catholic in the Gorbals, as a boy he helped out in the synagogue where his mother cleaned. Now he's at Glasgow Central Mosque most Fridays, and on Sundays is as likely to be at the Sikh gurdwara as in his local church. He retired from the police last summer and is now the first council inter-faith liaison officer in Scotland.

Harrigan's remarkable mission is now the subject of a BBC documentary. It is particularly timely in the aftermath of the conviction of three Asian men for the racially aggravated murder of the Glasgow schoolboy Kriss Donald, because Harrigan's connections in Pakistan helped apprehend the guilty men. Much of his standing within the Muslim community in Glasgow is because he has made himself available seven days a week if there is an urgent problem. When a senior police officer from Pakistan, who was in Glasgow visiting friends, suffered a heart attack and died on a Saturday, MP Mohammad Sarwar phoned Harrigan. There had to be a post-mortem examination before the body could be released, but thanks to Harrigan it was flown back to Pakistan the following day to comply with religious requirements.