Racism in the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom, like most countries,[1] has racism between its ethnic groups. Relations between non-white immigrant groups and indigenous Britons have resulted in cases of race riots and racist murder perpetrated by extremists of all races.

Race riots[edit]

Pub damaged in the 2001 Bradford riots between White and Pakistani sectors

There were fierce race riots targeting ethnic minority populations across the United Kingdom in 1919: South Shields,[2] Glasgow, London's East End, Liverpool, Cardiff, Barry, and Newport.[citation needed] There were further riots targeting immigrant and minority populations in East London and Notting Hill in the 1950s.

In the early 1980s, societal racism, discrimination and poverty — alongside further perceptions of powerlessness and oppressive policing — sparked a series of riots in areas with substantial African-Caribbean populations.[3] These riots took place in St Pauls in 1980, Brixton, Toxteth and Moss Side in 1981, St Pauls again in 1982, Notting Hill Gate in 1982, Toxteth in 1982, and Handsworth, Brixton and Tottenham in 1985.[4]

The report identified both "racial discrimination" and an " extreme racial disadvantage" in Britain, concluding that urgent action was needed to prevent these issues becoming an "endemic, ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society".[3] The era saw an increase in attacks on Black people by White people. The Joint Campaign Against Racism committee reported that there had been more than 20,000 attacks on non-indigenous Britons including Britons of Asian origin during 1985.[5]

In 2001, there have been both the Bradford riots and the Oldham Riots. These riots have followed cases of racism - either the public displays of racist sentiment or, as in the Brixton Riots, racial profiling and alleged harassment by the police force. In 2005, were the Birmingham riots between Asians and Blacks, as a black teenager had been allegedly raped by South Asian men, although no teenager came forward claiming she had been raped.

Racially motivated hate crime[edit]

The British Crime Survey reveals that in 2004, 87,000 people from black or minority ethnic communities said they had been a victim of a racially motivated crime. They had suffered 49,000 violent attacks, with 4,000 being wounded. At the same time 92,000 white people said they had also fallen victim of a racially motivated crime. The number of violent attacks against whites reached 77,000, while the number of white people who reported being wounded was five times the number of black and minority ethnic victims at 20,000. Most of the offenders (57%) in the racially motivated crimes identified in the British Crime Survey are not white. White victims said 82% of offenders were not white.

These statistics show that ethnic minorities are overrepresented as perpetrators of racially motivated crime.[who?] Police and media face difficulties in being perceived to offer support to the far-right by reporting racist crimes towards white people, an ideal which has been criticised by Members of Parliament,.[who?] As a result, cases of hate crimes against white victims often are not reported sufficiently, an example being the murder of Ross Parker.[6][7][8][9]

The issue of Muslim men sexually abusing and exploiting white children has been criticised by some[weasel words] Members of Parliament[who?], who believe that political correctness prevented police and social workers from taking action.[10] Although Muslim community leaders have stated that the crimes were racially motivated, some[weasel words] politicians have denied the issue.[11]

In politics[edit]

Since World War I, public expressions of racism have been limited to far-right political parties such as the British National Front in the 1970s, whilst most mainstream politicians have publicly condemned all forms of racism. However some argue that racism remains common, and some many politicians and public figures have been accused of excusing or pandering to racist attitudes in the media, particularly with regard to immigration. There have been growing concerns in recent years about institutional racism in public and private bodies, and the tacit support this gives to crimes resulting from racism.

The Race Relations Act 1965 outlawed public discrimination, and established the Race Relations Board. Further Acts in 1968 and 1976 outlawed discrimination in employment, housing and social services, and replaced the Race Relations Board with Commission for Racial Equality. The Human Rights Act 1998 made organisations in Britain, including public authorities, subject to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Race Relations Act 2000 extends existing legislation for the public sector to the police force, and requires public authorities to promote equality.

Although various anti-discrimination legislation do exist, according to some sources most employers in the UK remain institutionally racist including public bodies such as the police[12] and particularly the legal professions.[13][14] The situation with the implementation of Human Rights law is similar. The Terrorism Acts, which came into law in 2000 and 2006, have caused a marked increase in racial profiling and have also been the basis to justify existent trends in discrimination against persons of Muslim origin (or resembling such) by the British police.[citation needed]

There have been tensions over immigration since at least the early 1900s. These were originally engendered by hostility towards Jews along with non-Jewish immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe (predominantly from Poland). Britain first began restricting immigration in 1905 under the Aliens Restriction Act. This was the first time that the United Kingdom implemented a policy that was designed to prevent the influx of immigrants. In particular it was aimed at those Jews who had fled persecution in Russia. Before the Act Britain had had a favourable immigration policy, most notably throughout the Victorian Period. However, for the first time policy was enacted to prevent the wholesale entry of foreign migrants. Although the Act was extreme Britain maintained its asylum policy. This meant that any persons who had fled their country due to religious or political persecution could be granted asylum in the United Kingdom. However, such policy was removed in the period before the Second World War to prevent the wholesale entry of Jewish refugees leaving from the Third Reich. Although Britain's policy was restrictive it was one of the leading nations that helped solve the refugee crisis preceding World War Two.

Britain has also had very strong limits on immigration since the early 1960s. Legislation was particularly targeted at members of the Commonwealth of Nations, who had previously been able to migrate to the UK under the British Nationality Act 1948. Conservative MP Enoch Powell made the controversial 1968 Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to Commonwealth immigration to Britain; this resulted in him being swiftly removed from the Shadow Cabinet.

Virtually all legal immigration, except for those claiming refugee status, ended with the Immigration Act 1971; however, free movement for citizens of the European Union was later established by the Immigration Act 1988. Legislation in 1993, 1996 and 1999 gradually decreased the rights and benefits given to those claiming refugee status ("asylum seekers"). 582,000 people came to live in the UK from elsewhere in the world in 2004 according to the Office for National Statistics.

Some commentators[who?] believe that an amount of racism, from within all communities, has been undocumented within the UK, adducing the many British cities whose populations have a clear racial divide. While these commentators[who?] believe that race relations have improved immensely over the last thirty years, they still believe that racial segregation remains an important but largely unaddressed problem, although research[15] has shown that ethnic segregation has reduced within England and Wales between the 1991 Census and 2001 Census.[citation needed]

The United Kingdom has been accused of "sleepwalking toward apartheid" by Trevor Phillips, chair of that country's Commission for Racial Equality. Philips has said that Britain is fragmenting into isolated racial communities: "literal black holes into which no one goes without fear and trepidation and nobody escapes undamaged". Philips believes that racial segregation in Britain is approaching that of the United States. "You can get to the point as they have in the U.S. where things are so divided that there is no turning back."[16]

The BBC has reported that the latest crime statistics appear to support Phillips' concerns. They show that race-hate crimes increased by almost 600 per cent in London in the month after the July 7 bomb attacks, with 269 more offences allegedly "motivated by religious hatred" reported to the Metropolitan Police, compared to the same period last year.[16]

Public sector employers in the UK are somewhat less likely to discriminate on grounds of race, as they are required by law to promote equality and make efforts to reduce racial and other discrimination. The private sector, however are subject to little or no functional anti-discrimination regulation and short of self paid litigation, no remedies are available for members of ethnic minorities.[14] UK employers can also effectively alleviate themselves from any legal duty not to discriminate on the basis of race, by 'outsourcing' recruitment and thus any liability for the employers' racial screening and discriminatory policies to third party recruitment companies.[17][18]

Racism within the police and prison staff[edit]

Police forces in the United Kingdom have been accused[who?] of institutionalised racism since the late 20th century.[citation needed] During the 2011 London riots, a Metropolitan Police officer, PC Alex MacFarlane,[19] arrested and attempted to strangle a male of African origin and used racial insults such as 'nigger' and 'black cunt' towards him. The case was referred to UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who declined bringing charges against the officers involved. The CPS reconsidered their decision after being threatened by the victim's lawyer to escalate the case to a high court. On 31 March 2012, it was announced the victim has presented a taped recording of the recorded abuses from the police.[20]

The National Black Police Association which allows only African, African-Caribbean and Asian officers as full members has been criticised as a racist organization because of its selective membership criteria based on ethnic origin.[21][22][23]

Prison guards are almost twice as likely to be reported for racism than inmates in the UK; with racist incidents between prison guards themselves being nearly as high as that between guards and prisoners. The environment has been described as a dangerous breeding ground for racist extremism.[24]

Racism in Scotland[edit]

A protest march by the Irish Catholic community in Glasgow, Scotland on 25 June 2006 against racism.

It has been reported that racial minorities are underrepresented in the police force.[25] In urban areas, tensions between ethnic Scots and Scottish Pakistanis occasionally flare up. Several items of racism in Scotland are reported here.[26]

In 2005-6, 1,543 victims of racist crime in Scotland were of Pakistani origin, while more than 1,000 victims were classed as being "white British"[27] although the Scottish Parliament still has no official policy on "white on white" racism in Scotland.

Kriss Donald was a Scottish fifteen-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in Glasgow in 2004. Five British Pakistani men were later found guilty of racially motivated violence; those convicted of murder were all sentenced to life imprisonment.[28]

However, there are indications that the Scottish authorities and people are well aware of the problem and are trying to tackle it. Among Scots under 15 years old there is the sign that, "younger white pupils rarely drew on racist discourses."[29]

In 2009 the murder of an Indian sailor named Kunal Mohanty by a lone Scotsman named Christopher Miller resulted in Miller's conviction as a criminal motivated by racial hatred. Miller's brother gave evidence during the trial and said Miller told him he had "done a Paki".[30]

As of 11 February 2011 attacks on Muslims in Scotland have contributed to a 20% increase in racist incidents over the past 12 months. Reports say every day in Scotland, 17 people are abused, threatened or violently attacked because of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or nationality. Statistics showed that just under 5,000 incidents of racism were recorded in 2009/10, a slight decrease from racist incidents recorded in 2008/9.[31]

From 2004 to 2012 the rate of racist incidents has been around 5,000 incidents per year.[31] In 2011-12, there were 5,389 racist incidents recorded by the police, which is a 10% increase on the 4,911 racist incidents recorded in 2010-11.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berg, Wendt (1 Dec 2013). Racism in the Modern World: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaptation. Berghahn Books. p. 1. ISBN 978-1782380856. 
  2. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/roots/2003/10/arabontyne.shtml
  3. ^ a b Q&A: The Scarman Report 27 BBC Online. April 2004. Accessed 6 October 2002.
  4. ^ A Different Reality: minority struggle in British cities University of Warwick. Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations. Accessed 6 October 2006
    ° The 1981 Brixton riots "The Riot not to work collective". "...What has changed since last year's riots". London 1982. Accessed 6 October 2006
  5. ^ Law and Order, moral order: The changing rhetoric of the Thatcher government. online. Ian Taylor. Accessed 6 October 2006
  6. ^ Alibhai Brown, Yasmin (26 October 2006). "When the victim is white, does anyone care?". London Evening Standard (London: Associated Newspapers Ltd.). Retrieved 30 May 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Presenters:Gavin Esler, Martha Kearney , Discussion Panel: Mark Easton, Kelvin MacKenzie, Lee Jasper Interviewee: Davinia Parker (8 October 2006). "Newsnight". Newsnight. BBC. BBC Two. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/6130110.stm.
  8. ^ Montague, Brendan (12 November 2006). "The hidden white victims of racism". The Sunday Times (London: News UK). Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/oct/22/ukcrime.race
  10. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-13879584
  11. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-17996245
  12. ^ "Racism 'still exists' in police". BBC News. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "SRA accused of institutional racism | News". The Lawyer. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  14. ^ a b "EHRC - Is it easy to bring a racial discrimination case?". Equalityhumanrights.com. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ a b Freeman, Simon. "Britain urged to wake up to race crisis", The Times, September 22, 2005.
  17. ^ "Barriers to employment for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Britain and constraints". Research.dwp.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  18. ^ As in Iteshi v British Telecommunications PLC UKEATPA/0378/11/DM
  19. ^ [2], Yahoo News
  20. ^ [3], Yahoo News
  21. ^ Tory MP addresses National Black Police Association annual conference... and blasts THEM as racist, The Daily Mail
  22. ^ MP mix-up as wrong David Davies accuses National Black Police Association of racism, The Guardian
  23. ^ MP defends police race criticism, BBC NEWS
  24. ^ Roweena Davis; Paul Lewis (2/7/2010). The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/feb/07/complaints-prison-racisim-staff-inmates.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "UK | Scotland | Police racism review sets targets". BBC News. 2005-07-15. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  26. ^ "News - Scotsman.com". News.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  27. ^ Scotsman.com News - Almost 20 race-hate crimes a day in Scotland
  28. ^ Kriss attacked 'for being white'
  29. ^ "Minority Ethnic Pupils' Experiences Of School In Scotland (MEPESS)". Scotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  30. ^ "Race hate murder man found guilty". BBC News. 10 November 2009. 
  31. ^ a b c "High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 Racist Incidents". http://www.scotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-25. 

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