POLICE made history when they opening their first neighbourhood surgery – at one of Southampton’s mosques.

PC Keith Burgess will provide a listening ear once a month at Abu Bakr Masjid in Argyle Road where 1,200 Muslims worship.

The Newtown and Nichols Town neighbourhood area bobby launched the initiative at last week’s Friday prayers before setting up base in an office upstairs for people to discuss crime, security and community matters in confidence.

Police have often visited the mosque and neighbouring Medina Mosque off St Mary’s Road to meet the community but this is the first time a regular surgery has been held.

Before addressing the congregation he told the Daily Echo: “St Mary’s is a very diverse area with more than 90 nationalities in a small area and we want to speak to people to make sure we can facilitate their wishes and needs.

“We are not trying to force anybody but if they want to speak with me I am here for them.”

He added: “We rarely get issues with hate crime in the area and people normally live here peacefully and it’s very much because of Abu Bakr’s standing that there is cohesion in the community.”

He also explained the role of the new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the role of neighbourhood teams in engaging with local communities they serve.

He stressed that he can signpost them to other partner agencies working with the police including environmental health and waste disposal services.

Mosque information officer Mohammad Khan said relationships between Muslims and the police have improved since the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks initially sparked friction and fears of harassment.

Mosque trustee Mohammad Adrees said: “We are building a bridge between each other.

“They can help us and have information for them.”

But Amine Belkacen, 38, from Eastleigh, who prays there said: “Anyone who has concerns about crime should report it.

“It is your duty as a citizen and it doesn’t necessarily need a policeman coming here for them to do it.”

PC Burgess will host his surgery from 2pm on the last Friday of the month.