Scrutiny and Involvement Panel Members

Seamus Taylor CBE (Chair)

Seamus Taylor is a Lecturer in Social Policy at Maynooth University in Ireland. This is a post he has held since 2009. One of his principal areas of research is on Hate Crime and he is currently undertaking a PhD on the emergence and development of Disability Hate Crime policy and practice in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

Prior to his current role he was Director of Equality and Diversity at the CPS Headquarters in London from 2004 to 2009. In this role he lead on community engagement strategy including the development of Scrutiny and Involvement Panels and policies and performance on Hate Crime and Violence against Women. He had previously been Director of Strategy at the then Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) where he lead on the roll out of the race equality duty across the public sector following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. He had earlier worked as Head of Policy: Equality and Diversity at Haringey Council.

Seamus also served as a Commissioner on the Commission on the future of Multi Ethnic Britain and as a trustee of the Runnymede Trust. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA) and is vice chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust. Seamus was awarded a CBE in 2010 in recognition of his work to place equality at the heart of the UK legal system.

Debbie Brenner

Debbie has been active in the Learning Disability movement for over 30 years. She set up a large not-for-profit, inclusive learning disability organisation, which she managed for the past 20 years. Debbie currently works with the Foundation for Learning Disabilities with family carers from minority communities. She also supports self-advocates to do quality reviews of services for Speakout in Hounslow.

As a member of Hounslow Friends of Faith, Debbie is active in her community promoting multi cultural activities which engender cooperation and understanding.

Nicole Jacobs

Nicole is the Chief Executive Officer of Standing Together Against Domestic Violence. She has worked in domestic violence policy and intervention for 17 years. Nicole worked at the Alabama State Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States for five years in charge of statewide training and service standards. In 1997, she came to London as an early worker at ADVANCE, one of the first advocacy (now IDVA service) projects taking referrals directly from Hammersmith and Fulham Police.

In 2000, she began working at Standing Together, expanding the coordinated community response efforts into health settings. After returning to the UK following two years working in the United States at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, she was part of a small group of individuals and organisations that shaped CAADA's nationally accredited IDVA training programme, and she co-trained courses for two years.

Her freelance work has included clients such as the CPS, Refuge and multiple local authorities, individual refuges, outreach and IDVA projects. In recent years she worked at Refuge as a Senior Operations Manager, responsible for management of a range of specialist operational services including the Gaia Centre in Lambeth addressing all strands of violence against women and girls. She has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Public Administration.

Richard Kusi

Richard has been a Southwark Young Advisor for the past four years and continues to support them in making positive contributions in and outside London. With a degree in BA Business Management, Richard is focusing on the young generation to ensure they receive adequate support before pursuing his business dream. He is currently with Southwarks Early Help Service working with children aged 0-19 and their families providing support around their educational setting.

As a Young Advisor, Richard has been involved with the following:

  • Mediabox
  • Junior Wardens
  • Four Squares United (youth club)
  • Spirit of London Awards
  • The Mix
  • Count Me In (Anti-Knife campaign)
  • Stop and Search training
  • Street Based Team
  • Virgin Media Panel
  • Proud of Southwark event
  • David Idowu Peace Event.

Sandy Marks

Sandy was born and brought up in North London and has lived in Islington since 1976. Locally she is Chair of Disability Action in Islington, a Deaf and Disabled Person led organisation. Sandy is also Chair of the Islington Personal Budgets Network, a peer support network of Islington residents who receive support services from Adult Social Services.

She works closely with Islington Council to ensure that services meet peoples' needs and is Co-chair of the Making it Real Board. Sandy is keen that public services have external scrutiny from the communities that they serve both to challenge their practice but also to support them to improve to meet the needs of communities.

Fiyaz Mughal

Fiyaz Mughal's working history includes over 15 years experience in the community and voluntary sector in positions that have included social policy lobbying, project and general management, conflict resolution work and leading organisations as the Chief Operating Officer.

Fiyaz has worked in a number of organisations providing training to women right through to European transnational faith related programmes and advice and information projects. Currently, Fiyaz Mughal is currently the Founder and Director of a not for profit organization called Faith Matters which works on reducing extremism and developing platforms for discourse and interaction between Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Jewish communities right across the UK. Faith Matters also works extensively on community cohesion, interfaith, conflict resolution and prevent programmes at a local, national and international level.

Fiyaz was previously a Councillor in Haringey (2006-2010) and a Councillor in Oxford (2002-2004). A previous Deputy President of a mainstream political party in the UK, he has also campaigned heavily on Black and Minority Ethnic (group) inclusion within political parties and discourses. He was also appointed to be on the Working Group for Communities that was linked to the Extremism Task Force developed in 2005 after the 7/7 bombings. In early 2008, Fiyaz was successful in becoming an elected member IDeA Peer Mentor for national work with local authorities on the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda.

Fiyaz was also previously appointed by the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP) to be a member of the Local Delivery Advisory Group on Preventing Violent Extremism. He was also appointed as the Advisor to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg MP, on interfaith and preventing radicalisation and extremism between 2009 - 2010. Fiyaz was honoured in June 2009 by Her Majesty the Queen and was bestowed with the Honour of the Order of the British Empire.

Ifath Nawaz

Ifath is a solicitor with over 20 years experience in local government in the United Kingdom and as Principal Solicitor at Wycombe District Council, she played a key role advising on engagement with the communities and equality and diversity issues. Ifath was the President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers (UK) 2002 - 2011 and Director of Muslimah Ltd leading on issues that matter to the community understanding the Legal System and working with legal institutions to enhance understanding of the Muslim perspective via advisory role, seminars, conferences and legal road shows. Ifath is also a Governor at local primary and high schools, taking particular interest in Minority Ethnic Achievement, Literacy and Community Issues.

Neena Samota

Neena is a specialist consultant with extensive experience of criminal justice and social policy issues. She has fourteen years of professional experience in conducting evidence-led research in the public and voluntary sectors. As policy and research manager at Nacro (the crime-reduction charity), she was for 11 years involved in influencing criminal justice policy at both local and national levels. Her professional portfolio spans criminal justice, mental health and social policy issues; this includes youth crime, race, gender, resettlement, restorative justice and other equality issues within criminal justice. Neena has led and authored several research and evaluation reports at Nacro for clients including the National Offender Management Service, Home Office and voluntary sector organisations.

Her work also includes organisational development for national infrastructure/umbrella organisations such as Clinks, Womens Breakout, BTEG and Action for Prisoners Families (APF) and Council for Somali Organisations (CSO). Neena maintains extensive engagement with the voluntary sector through research, governance and campaigns. As Chair of Voice4Change England (V4CE) and trustee of the Coalition for Racial Justice (UK) she contributes to governance and helps fulfil the vision and mission of these organisations. Neena is member of StopWatch which campaigns to promote effective, accountable and fair policing. She is also a steering group member of the Reclaim Justice Network which campaigns to promote alternatives to criminal justice.

Dr Mari Cameron Taber - Healthwatch

Mari has been working as a senior manager and mental health specialist for 40 years, in both statutory and voluntary sectors. She currently works as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice and is an active member of Healthwatch Kingston, as set up by the Department of Health. Healthwatch assists local people to influence local care mental health services, from planning through to service delivery. As well as being involved in improving mental health service delivery at the community level, she is dedicated to finding out how the judicial system impacts on individuals suffering from mental distress. Her mission is to keep reassuring service users that their fear of discrimination will be taken seriously by a more informed and sensitive practice within the judicial system.

Michael Whine

Michael Whine is the Government and International Affairs Director at the Community Security Trust. He is a member of the Hate Crime Independent Advisors Group at the Ministry of Justice, in which capacity he has represented the UK at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He is also a member of the Common Platform, the oversight body of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency.

Between 2005 and 2009 he was a member of the London Criminal Justice Board Independent Advisors Group, and between 2004 and 2012 he was a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority Hate Crime Forum. In 2006 he was the civilian member of the Law Enforcement Officers Programme of the OSCE, training Participating States police officers to investigate hate crime, and for ten years has helped run a workshop on investigating hate crime and extremism for the Berlin Police.

Between 2010 and 2012 he was the CIP Advisor to the Counter Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service. In 2013, he was appointed the UK Member of ECRI, the Council of Europe Commission against Racism and Intolerance. He has been professionally involved in investigating religious and violent extremism for over twenty five years and is the author of numerous peer-reviewed works on these subjects. He was appointed MBE in the 2012 New Years Honours.

Dr Matthew L N Wilkinson

Dr Matthew L N Wilkinson is Research Fellow on Islam in Education & Law at the Centre of Islamic Studies, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Education and is the founding Director and Principal Researcher of Curriculum for Cohesion. He was a King's Scholar at Eton College and won a scholarship in Theology & Religious Studies at Trinity College, Cambridge. He embraced Islam in 1991 and thereafter studied the Qur'an and the related Islamic knowledge for ten years.

Matthew taught History, Citizenship and Religious Education in mainstream, supplementary and faith schools in a senior capacity for fifteen years in the UK and abroad. In 2007, he was awarded an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Scholarship to undertake his PhD at Kings College London. He is the originator of the philosophy of Islamic Critical Realism, building upon the work of Professor Roy Bhaskar which underpins the work of Curriculum for Cohesion. He is the author of A Fresh Look at Islam in a Multi-faith World: a philosophy for success through education (Routledge, 2015).  Matthew also acts regularly as an Expert Witness in Islamic theology and law.