Nazir Afzal Interview
ONE of the top Asian lawyers in the UK is backing a new initiative to encourage more young people to take up apprenticeships.
Nazir Afzal OBE is one of the judges for the first ever Asian Apprenticeship Awards.
The idea behind the awards is to get more young Asians to take up apprenticeships and Nazir Afzal wants to play a part in addressing the under representation of Asians when it comes to apprenticeships.
“Not enough Asians are aware of the opportunities for apprentices and there is also a huge benefit to employers,” said Nazir Afzal on a visit to Birmingham, ahead of the awards at the Holiday Inn in the city on Thursday, November 10.
He said that it is necessary to educate people that apprenticeships now apply to the services and professions including the law.
“There is a traditional view that apprenticeships apply to engineering and manufacturing but they are now available in many sectors including the law and provide a great opportunity for people to get into my profession,” added Nazir Afzal.
But the only lawyer ever to prosecute a case before the Queen says that that this was not be case when he emerged with a law degree from Birmingham University in the 1980’s.
“It was not an opportunity open to me when I started as at that time the only way was via a traditional academic route and so in this way young people and employers are fortunate now,” he added.
“Employers get the finished article.”
He practiced in the city of his birth for three years before moving to London.
“It is unfortunate but for career development it is necessary to spend time in London,” added Nazir Afzal.
“It is a shame because I hate living in London. Recently, I was using the tube when a man ran past me like Mo Farah and went mad when he missed the train although the next one was along in one minute, that’s what London does to you.”
He is reputed to have told critics that they could deport him to Birmingham.
“I was born in Birmingham. They can deport me to Birmingham if they want to” and added “I think if you are getting it from both sides, you are probably getting something right.”
A legal career has seen Nazir Afzal involved in a number of high profile prosecutions including bringing the disgraced former BBC personality Stuart Hall to justice, prosecuting a stalker of Dianna Spencer and the honour killing of Samaira Nazir.
Nazir Afzal has been a strong supporter of women’s rights especially as they impact upon Asian women with regards to forced marriage, female genital mutilation and honour killings.
He also instigated the prosecutions related to the grooming of women in Rochdale and has criticised a lack of leadership in some Asian communities in failing to tackle some behaviours.
Now the Chief Executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, he is a former Chief Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service.
He holds an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Birmingham and is also pro-vice chancellor of Brunel University.
His reason for taking time out of a busy professional life to support the Asian Apprenticeship Awards is simple.
“I want part of my legacy to be to work with young people,” he added.
“Apprenticeships provide a great opportunity for both young people and for employers.”
He said that employers need to recognise that employing and providing opportunities for apprentices is an important investment in creating skills vital for success.