Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE 1C)
RESPONSE TO SCOTTISH AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
Number of Racist incidents: summary of recent figures and trends across Great Britain
Racist incidents recorded by police in England & Wales and Scotland
England & Wales
England and Wales = BCS 2000
Scotland = Force Annual Statistical Returns
It is important to note that these statistics are generally considered to be an under representation of the actual figures. The British Crime survey (BCS) identifies a decrease in racially motivated incidents, it is not known if this is mirrored in Scotland on its own.
One trend worth noting is that the BCS identifies that for both black and Asian victims more than 50 per cent of incidents took place close to or at their home, for white victims the figure is a third.
Currently racial incidents ( RIs) as reported to Scottish Policy Forces are rising year on year. This is to be expected as in recent years the proper recoding of RIs has been given higher priority by Scottish Forces. The extent to which this reflects the actual experience of racism is however debatable. The figures given for the locus of RIs reported to the Policy suggest that around 50 per cent of RIs are located in or near business premisesit is likely that the recorded total is only a proportion of actual report. Scotland's second largest ethnic minority group, the Chinese community, consistently report very few RIs.
With respect to perpetrators, although no Scottish wide data is available, studies of convicted persons and data from individual forces suggest that the vast majority of offences are committed by youths. There is little evidence of significant black-on-black violence in Scotland.
Nationally, more incidents are being reported to the police, increasing the number of cases recorded and forwarded for prosecution.
In the aftermath of the terrorist of 11 September 2001, and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan, many Muslim and/other Asian communities experienced an upsurge in religiously motivated incidents. In response the police set up the National Community Tension Team (NCTT) to monitor developments and co-ordinate effective protection for all communities. The NCTT advised the Commission that the number of recorded racist incidents (including "faith hate incidents") and other "tension indicators" rose after September 11, and returned to the pre-existing trend by the end of the year.
Figures for Scotland were proportionate to the England and Wales figures total up to 1998-99 at about a tenth but since their annual increase has been lower that that for England and Wales.
By contrast to the exponential rise in the 1990s in recorded incidents, the British Crime Survey 2000 estimated a fall from 390,000 racially motivated incidents in England and Wales in 1995 to 280,000 in 1999.
The BCS estimated that in 1999, 40 per cent of ethnic minority victims of racist incidents, and 61 per cent of white victims, reported the incident to the police (an improvement on previous years).
In 1999 the risk of victimisation for white people was 0.4 per cent, compared with 2.2 per cent for black people, 3.6 per cent for Indians and 4.2 per cent for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (Source BCS 2000).
The total for London accounted for just under a half of the England and Wales figure in most years eg 11,050 in 1998-99 and 23,346 in 1999-2000 (ibid).
Nearly half of incidents (44 per cent) against ethnic minorities occurred in London and a similar proportion were perpetrated against victims aged 16-24 (ibid).
"Lines to Take" BriefingRacist Incidents
Racially motivated attacks and harassment received little official recognition until a Home Office research study of 1981. This estimated that people of Afro-Caribbean origin were 36 times more likely, and people of Asian origin 50 times more likely, to be the victims of racially motivated attacks than white people.
In 1986 a report of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee concluded that the incidence of racial attacks remained "the most shameful and dispiriting aspect of race relations in Britain". It believed the problem was getting worse, and recommended that the police and other organisations should work together to confront the problem. The problem was, however, only quantified in local studies such as the Newham Crime Survey (1987). This found that 25 per cent of ethnic minority respondents had experienced some form of racial abuse during the previous 12 month period, and that only one in 20 incidents was reported to the police.
The Government's response was to set up the Interdepartmental Racial Attacks Group (RAG) in 1987. In 1989 it published The Response to Racial Attacks and Harassment: Guidance for the statutory agencies, which laid the groundwork for establishing multi-agency panels throughout England and Wales (see section below).
In 1994 the British Crime Survey, which is a reliable guide to the actual incidence of crime, estimated that 291,000 racially motivated incidents had occurred the previous year, suggesting a recording rate by the police of one in 16. Part of this would have been due to non-reporting by victims and part to non- recognition by the police.
The killing of Stephen Lawrence, on 22 April 1993, now represents a watershed in race relations. However, it received little more public attention than the other approximately ten to twelve racist murders each year until the establishment the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry under Lord Macpherson in 1997. The Inquiry's report identified fundamental flaws in the police conduct of the murder investigation, stemming from professional incompetence, institutional racism and a dramatic failure of leadership by senior officers (Macpherson, 1999; see also Bowling & Phillips, 2002). The report highlighted the failure of the police to acknowledge the racial motivation of the offence and the lack of support and respect accorded to Stephen Lawrence's parents.
The Home Secretary's consequent action plan fully accepted 56 of the report's 70 recommendations. This included an improved definition of a racist incident as "any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"which is intended to ensure that investigations take full account of the possibility of a racist dimension to any incident. The action plan also included a new Ministerial priority to "increase trust and confidence in policing among ethnic minorities".
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry was convened at a time when the official response to racist violence was changing. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced new provisions to deal with racist violence and harassment, bolstering the existing provisions available to police under the Public Order Act 1986. Sections 29 to 32 of the Act introduced racially aggravated offences applying to assaults, criminal damage, public order offences and harassment.
Encouraging agencies to recognise racial motivation behind incidents is an ongoing challenge. Through a process of "attrition" cases are lost at every stage of the criminal justice process, from incidents not being reported to the police through to the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute all of the cases that it receives. The Crime and Disorder Act seeks to ensure that the racist component to any crime is recognised and prioritised. Section 82 of the Act, for example, provides a requirement for the courts to consider the racial motivation or racial hostility as aggravating factors when deciding on the sentence for any offence which is not a specific racially aggravated offence under the Act. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 does not cover decisions by criminal justice agencies not to prosecute.
There is little in the current legislation to cover religiously motivated incidents, with the exception of Jews and Sikhs who are recognised under the Race Relations Act 1976 as racial groups.<mr100> The Government came close to remedying this following the 11 September terrorist attacks with proposals to extend the provisions of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 covering incitement to racial hatred and racially aggravated offences to include religion (Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 2001). These provisions were subsequently dropped from the Bill.
From 1 April 1999, police forces and other local authorities have been required, under the duty of Best Value, to collect and provide information on their performance against national performance indicators on racist incidents. This includes (for the police) the percentage of racist incidents where further action is taken, and (for public authorities) the number of racist incidents recorded by the authority per 100,000 population. The data compiled from the Best Value regime allows for national comparisons and for the setting of stretching year on year improvement targets.
The multi-agency, or "partnership" approach to dealing with racist incidents developed from the late 1980s. It stems from the realisation that racist incidents are not the responsibility solely of the police, and that the efforts of all relevant agencies should be co-ordinated. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), for example, now share a standardised racist incident monitoring (RIM) form with other agencies and aim to identify and prosecute all offences with a racial motivation. The Probation Service, meanwhile, seeks to challenge the behaviour of racially motivated offenders in line with their 1998 framework From Murmur to Murder.
The partnership approach has been formalised in many areas of Britain by the establishment of multi-agency panels (MAPs). Many MAPs work within and alongside their local multi-agency crime and disorder partnerships, which became mandatory under section five of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. MAPs draw together representatives of the police, other criminal justice agencies, local authority departments, voluntary organisations and community groups. Ideally they share details directly incidents are reported, divide different aspects of the response between them appropriately, and critically review their joint performance, so as to constantly to improve it.
A well performing MAP keeps the police in touch with local issues and local community groups. Many MAPs work with victim support services and in association with "third party" reporting centres, such as places of worship. This can help the police to record and respond to racially motivated crime without the victims having to make contact with the police, and it is particularly important in areas where victims are either unwilling or unable to report the incidents directly to the police.
A number of MAPs have taken the idea one stage further and operate a "Common Monitoring System". This entails the collation of all reports of racist incidents from each of the involved agencies so that wider trends of racist incidents and harassment can be mapped. In turn this helps Panels to respond more effectively and proactively to local requirements. Examples of Common Monitoring Systems can be found in Bristol and Nottinghamshire. Using common recording forms with the ability to distinguish between different categories of incident can be vital to the analytical process.
However MAPs do not exist in all areas, and it is clear that they do not all operate to the same standards. Research for the Rowntree Foundation (Lemos and Crane, 2001) found a lack of focus and provision of medium term victim support provision by some panels. Also, the provision and reach of panels in areas with smaller ethnic minority populations was considerably below average, which is worrying since the risk of victimisation in those areas can be higher. To establish minimum standards the Home Office has issued guidance in In This Together (1998), the Code of Practice on Reporting and Recording Racist Incidents (2000) and the Racial Crime and Harassment Toolkit (2001).
THE POLICING RESPONSE
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the Home Secretary's action plan have impacted powerfully on police strategy with regard to racist incidents, as with other areas of policing. A major initiative has been the production of the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) Guide to Identifying and Combatting Hate Crime (2000), which specifically sets out the actions and standards now required in very practical and accessible language. The Guide is primarily aimed at racist incidents but also covers other hate crime. It is intended to cover every aspect of the police response to incidents, from using intelligence to detect cases through to investigation and prevention. It also deals with the required response to the victim, their family and any witnesses to the incident.
Individual forces are expected to add the ACPO Guide to their existing procedural guidance on the handling of racist incidents. For example, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has:
Set up a dedicated Racial and Violent Crime Task Force.
Initiated Operation Athena to target hate crime.
Created two-way links between the Task Force and Borough Command Units to convey central guidance, and gather local intelligence for central analysis so as to initiate London-wide action.
Targeted publicity to encourage the reporting of incidents, including adverts in cinemas and the production of 200,000 advice leaflets.
The MPS has facilitated a large research project led by Professor B. Stanko to examine and report on the force response to hate crime.
Prioritised hate crime within the policing plan and policing plan indicators.
Included "faith hate" incidents within the wider category of racist incidents (post 11 September 2001).
Nationally, more incidents are being reported to the police, they are progressively increasing the number of cases recorded and forwarded for prosecution, and it appears that levels of racist incidents may be in decline (see Key Facts, below).
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan, many Muslim and/other Asian communities experienced an upsurge in religiously motivated incidents. In response the police set up the National Community Tension Team (NCTT) to monitor developments and co-ordinate effective protection for all communities. The NCTT advised the Commission that the number of recorded racist incidents (including "faith hate incidents") and other "tension indicators" rose after 11 September and returned to the pre-existing trend by the end of the year.
Racist incidents recorded by the police in England & Wales were 6,459 in 1990, 13,878 in 1997-98, 23,040 in 1998-99 and 47,814 in 1999-2000 [Source: BCS 2000].
The total for London accounted for just under a half of the England & Wales figure in most years, eg 11,050 in 1998-9 and 23,346 in 1999-2000 [ibid].
Figures for Scotland were proportionate to the England and Wales figures total up to 1998-99 at about a tenth but since then their annual increase has been less. For example the totals were 1,078 in 1997-9, 1,271 in 1998-99 and 2,242 in 1999-2000 [Source: Figures collated from Force Annual Statistical Returns and the Scottish Office Crime Prevention Unit].
By contrast to the exponential rise in the 1990s in recorded incidents, the British Crime Survey 2000 estimated a fall from 390,000 racially motivated incidents in England and Wales in 1995 to 280,000 in 1999.
The BCS estimated that in 1999 40 per cent of minority ethnic victims of racist incidents, and 61 per cent of white victims, reported the incident to the police (an improvement on previous years).
In 1999 the risk of victimisation for white people was 0.4 per cent, compared with 2.2 per cent for black people, 3.6 per cent for Indians and 4.2 per cent for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis [Source: BCS 2000].
Nearly half of incidents (44 per cent) against ethnic minorities occurred in London and a similar proportion were perpetrated against victims aged 16-24 [ibid].
LINES TO TAKE
It does appear that the enormous increase in recorded incidents since 1990 represents much fuller reporting and recording, which we welcome.
We note that the British Crime Survey 2000 indicates a fall in actual racist incidents in the second half of the 1990s, and look forward to the figures for 2000, which will show whether this was maintained after the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report.
Even if the apparent downward trend continues at the same rate, however, the evident extent of the problem remains shocking and unacceptable.
We urge that religious incidents are accorded the same level of priority as racist incidents. There is no evidence to suggest that the consequences are any less traumatic for the victims.
It is right that even "minor" incidents are now officially required to be given high priority, in recognition that hate motivated vandalism, disorder and threats, if not vigorously tackled, can lead to serious crimes of violence.
We welcome recent increases in many forces in clear up, prosecution and conviction rates.
We urge all police forces to initiate work to improve multi-agency co-ordination, in the light of In this Together, the Code of Practice on Reporting and Recording Racist Incidents and the Racial Crime and Harassment Toolkit (produced by the Government's Racist Incidents Standing Committee, RISC, and published respectively in 1998, 2000 and 2001 by the Home Office).
In particular we commend the "two tier" structure as originally set out in the 1989 report, whereby a panel of case workers addresses day to day incidents, while a senior managers' panel takes a strategic view and has the authority to change policies and procedures in the light of experience.
It is also essential that information on reported incidents is appropriately shared between agencies on "Day One", so that later panel meetings are used critically to review the response. Where information is not shared until monthly or quarterly meetings they tend to become "talking shops".
We urge all police forces to give the highest priority to implementing/locally adapting the ACPO Hate Crime Manual and the racist incidents section of the ACPO Diversity Strategy. These include steps on procedures, multi-agency co-ordination and training.
It is vital that properly resourced multi-agency forums exist in all areas and that under performing forums are given the required help to improve their service. We would therefore welcome RISC-sponsored research to identify under-performing MAPs so that support and advice may be targeted on those with the most room for improvement.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why should "racist incidents" be prioritised? Isn't a broken window or a punch on the nose just as bad when it's due to hooliganism or a personal dispute?
No, an incident believed to be motivated by hatred has a particular impact on its victims and those who live in fear of becoming victims. Being the victim of any crime can be traumatic, but knowing that the perpetrator's motivation is based on an impersonal, group hatred, relating to some feature shared by the victim with others can make even minor crimes seem far more serious. Also, Home Office research indicates that racial motivation is more likely to lead to repeat victimisation, and escalation to more serious offences. The prioritisation of racist incidents ensures that the police and other criminal justice agencies take all reported incidents seriously.
Aren't more white people the victims of racist incidents than ethnic minority people?
Numerically yes, but not proportionately. White people constitute around 93 per cent of the overall population, so it would not be surprising that they may account for more reported cases than the 7 per cent or so of people from ethnic minority communities. However, the British Crime Survey estimated that in 1999 the risk of victimisation for white people was 0.4 per cent, compared with 2.2 per cent for black people, 3.6 per cent for Indians and 4.2 per cent for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. This means that a person from the Pakistani or Bangladeshi community is 11 times more likely than a white person to be the victim of a racist incident.
Is it true that there are no specific offences for religiously motivated incidents?
Yes, there is little in the current legislation to cover religiously motivated incidents, with the exception of Jews and Sikhs who from case law are included as racial groups regarding discrimination under the Race Relations Act. There has been some debate around extending the provisions of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which currently cover incitement to racial hatred and racially motivated offences, to cover religion, but imminent change appears unlikely. Blasphemy is a common law offence, but it only covers Christianity and there have been no public prosecutions for blasphemy since 1922. The only successful private prosecution was brought in 1977 in the "Gay News" case by Mrs Mary Whitehouse (Whitehouse v. Lemon).
Is it true that proportionately more of the racist incidents are committed by black and minority ethnic youths?
There is no conclusive evidence on this. The British Crime Survey for 2000 estimated that 40 per cent of racist incidents were committed by white offenders and 47 per cent by black and Asian offenders, and that that 46 per cent of offenders were aged between 16 and 24. However, these figures may be affected by other factors, including a greater willingness by white victims to report incidents to the police or to ascribe a racist motivation.
Research published by the Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRC) in 1998 estimated that where incidents were perceived as racially motivated, 82 per cent of offenders were described as white, 75 per cent were male and 36 per cent were aged between of 15-36. Neither the ESRC research nor the British Crime Survey identify what proportion of cases are subsequently evidenced as having a racial motivation.
What effect has 11 September 2001 and the conflict in Afghanistan had on the number of racist incidents?
The police National Community Tension Team (NCTT) have advised the Commission that the number of recorded racist incidents (including "faith hate incidents"), particularly against Muslim and/ other Asian communities, rose after 11 September, but returned to the pre-existing trend by the end of year.
Is it true that the number of racist incidents is continuing to escalate?
The British Crime Survey 2000 estimated a fall from 390,000 racially motivated incidents in England and Wales in 1995 to 280,000 in 1999. We will know whether this trend has continued when the British Crime Survey reports again in October 2002.
Why is the definition of a racist incident based on someone's feeling, rather than evidence?
Since 1986 the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) hasin our view rightlytaken the view that the perception of a racist motivation is appropriate for purposes of recording and prioritisation. It is better to include some incidents that later turn out not be racial, or probably racial, than risk excluding some that are. Also in the past victims have all too often been unwilling to report incidents to the police for fear. By basing the definition of a racist incident on someone's feeling, we ensure that all reports are investigated, that all available evidence is gathered and that the needs of the victim can be better addressed.
Do you think the police have really changed and improved, or is it all window dressing?
The ACPO Hate Crime Guide puts the new police approach to racist incidents absolutely on the record, and provides a standard against which the response to any individual incident can be judged. Improvements in police performance are suggested by the doubling of recorded racist incidents from 1997-98 to 1998-99 and doubling again in 1999-2000, compared with a decrease in the number of actual racist incidents over a similar period estimated by the British Crime Survey (see Key Statistics above). This suggests an increase in community trust and confidence and an improvement in police recording. The police themselves, however, recognise that there is still a long way to go.
8 May 2002
<mo100> Blasphemy is a common law offence, but it only covers Christianity and there have been no public prosecutions for blasphemy since 1922. The only successful private prosecution was brought in the "Gay News" case in 1977 by Mrs Mary Whitehouse (Whitehouse v. Lemon).