Congratulations Iqbal Wahhab: High Sheriff of Greater London

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Restaurateur, entrepreneur and race equality activist,  Iqbal Wahhab last week was appointed High Sheriff for Greater London.

For many of us here in the UK, the only time we come across the 'Sheriff', is in the Bob Marley classic, ‘I shot the Sheriff’, or the Cartoon character Deputy Dawg, the canine Sheriff of Florida.

However, here in the UK , every year Sovereign appoints a High Sheriff for each of the 55 counties of England and Wales as her representative in respect of justice. The post is the oldest secular office in the United Kingdom after the Crown, and dates back to Saxon times. It is independent, non-political, and unpaid.

The importance of the High Sheriff peaked about nine centuries ago. Back then, the Sheriff was the King’s right hand man; who not only oversaw the collection of  taxes, but also acted as the Chief of Police, lead prosecutor, judge and jury.

Thankfully that role no longer resides in one person, but rather institutions,nevertheless, there are some of the duties that still exist today, such as,  to make awards under the 1826 Criminal Law Act introduced by Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, for members of the public who have shown outstanding acts of bravery in helping stop crimes they have witnessed.

The rest of the year is pretty much for the incumbent to decide how they use their time in office.And I  am not surprised that my good friend, Iqbal,  has chosen to use his one year office to focus on domestic abuse, modern slavery and the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

Iqbal  has been at the forefront of taking on ex-prisoners- many BME - who are almost  ready to leave, training them to cook, and then employing them at his five star restaurants, dramatically turning their lives around.

With Iqbal Wahhab the new Sheriff in town, expect lives to be transformed with hope, support and a road map to success.

Simon Woolley

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