Black and minority ethnic (BME) young people are often told to pursue education and training to improve their job prospects.
Since the 1990s BME people have had higher participation rates in higher education, but this new Runnymede report, Aiming Higher, shows that BME student still have to do better than their white peers to make it into university. Read: Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy
Who gets included in the story?
Runnymede's History Lessons project looks at the importance of diversity in the teaching of history.
Race Card in an online news and comment platform run by Runnymede that provides a space where a diverse set of voices can speak honestly about race.
It is produced by a mixture of journalists, bloggers, politicians and academics. Race Card equips you with analysis and data to tackle enduring racial inequality in the UK.
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr spoke in London at St Paul's Cathedral on his way to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Runnymede is delighted to have supported an anniversary lecture on 4 December on how we can end racism today and work towards Martin Luther King's dream.
Runnymede has published a major report outlining inequalities between ethnic minorities and white British people for every local authority in England and Wales.
The research was produced by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester and shows that differences in living standards for minorities and white British have remained persistent since 2000. Left alone, the problem will not solve itself.
Posted by Vicki 12 October 2012 : criminal justice ,
The news website Exaro has published a story regarding Operation Terminus - a new elite crime squad that targets foreign criminals in London. Runnymede is quoted as calling the initiative "worrying" and potentially alienating to ethnic minorities.
We are concerned that the headline and start of article may give the false impression we are against foreign criminals being targeted by the police. This is, of course, not the case. We are instead concerned with the overall approach of Operation Terminus rather than its specific aims.
Our Research and Policy Analyst Kam Gill clarifies Runnymede’s position and provides more detail on our concerns with Operation Terminus
The Metropolitan police have recently initiated an operation - dubbed Operation Terminus - which seeks to target foreign criminals for deportation. While few people, and certainly not Runnymede are likely object to criminals of whatever nationality being targeted by the police and prevented from committing more crime there are aspects of the approach which are problematic and are likely to be ineffective.
Firstly by focusing on "foreigners" rather than on "criminals" or on a specific crime there is a risk that the police will slide into the use of ethnic profiling - targeting specific people based not on intelligence that they may be involved in crime but based purely on the actual or perceived ethnicity - a tactic which is illegal in the UK. Regardless of their ethnicity criminals should be caught, of course, but once caught they should also be entitled to due process and fair treatment under the law.
Today's blog post is written by Kam Gill, research and policy analyst at Runnymede
The announcement on Monday that Rodney King had died aged 47 prompted much comment about the impact the King case had on both race relations and policing in the US. King became arguably the world’s most famous victim of police brutality after three of the officers filmed beating him on the sidewalk were acquitted by an all-white jury, with the fourth being released following a mistrial. The trial sparked widespread rioting across LA, during which more than 50 people were killed.
In the 20 years since the LA riots Rodney King developed a totemic status for those who suffered from police aggression, particularly in the US but also in the UK. Over the same period, policing in the UK has had its own race scandals, most notably the investigation into the death of Stephen Lawrence. Similar to the King Case, the Lawrence murder sparked an inquiry into policing in the UK which allowed Black and minority ethnic communities to air grievances that had festered for decades.
One of the most prominent issues coming to light was stop and search. The massive disparities in the use of this power prompted Lord Macpherson, who led the inquiry into the police response to Lawrence’s murder, to conclude that institutional racism was embedded within the Metropolitan police service. Much like the King case, the Lawrence inquiry was considered to have exposed the facade of post-racial or colour blind policing, allowing the ugly truth to be faced and dealt with.
Today's blog post is written by Ojeaku Nwabuzo, a researcher at Runnymede
On Monday 6 August I read a twitter message from a close friend saying “riots are about to happen in Hackney”. At this point there had been two days of civil unrest in Tottenham and Brixton and I had a feeling it would eventually erupt in Hackney. Why? Well there was a pattern emerging. These were urban areas with high proportions of deprivation, unemployment and minority ethnic people that appeared to be reacting to the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police.
Over the next few months I worked on the Riot Roundtables project; one of the few in-depth inquires into civil unrest in England last year that asked if race was a factor in the disturbances. As part of this project we visited communities across England and overwhelmingly participants in our research said that racial injustice was an underlying cause of the disturbances in August 2011.
Many roundtable participants felt that the death of Mark Duggan, a mixed raced man, had awakened a deep and real memory of historical injustices and grievances that Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities have had with the police and the criminal justice system. Currently, we can see in America how the killing of Trayvon Martin has lead to outrage within the black community and as one commentator said his death “is finally lifting the lid on the US's racist underbelly”.
Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's director, Dr Rob Berkeley
The report of the Communities and Victims Panel on the riots of summer 2011 makes a series of bold statements and recommendations to government in order to avoid similar levels of unrest in the months and years to come. Many of the recommendations are more forthright than was to be expected from a panel set up by government to sidestep a public inquiry into the events of last August. However, the report’s authors seem to have gone to extreme lengths to avoid discussion of structural and institutional racism and the role that it played in the riots. The avoidance of discussing racism is currently fashionable in policy circles, but in this case such avoidance serves only to obscure the analysis and misdirect the solutions.
The panel’s report highlights the levels of hopelessness in our communities, stemming, they argue from respondents’ views that they felt that common goals for their age group, such as getting a job or going to college were unachievable.
They also point to problems that have been identified over decades for young people from many Black and minority ethnic communities – exclusion from school, low levels of attainment, poor careers guidance, little contact with employers, and patterns of intergenerational unemployment. Yet they do not articulate that these patterns for some are also often driven by structural barriers and patterns of discrimination which make some groups more vulnerable to exclusion from the labour market.
Today's blog post is written by Vastiana Belfon, a research associate at Runnymede
Researching the Runnymede archives for our new website “The Struggle for Racial Equality – An Oral History of the Runnymede Trust, 1968-1988” showed just how much has changed and, equally important, how much history will repeat itself – unless we take steps to make radical changes.
The language of race has certainly changed - witness recent media coverage of the use of the word 'coloured'. There's still a sense of unease when you read in 1969 of 'immigrant schoolchildren' with IQs that 'work out below their English contemporaries'. In 1971, Conservative MP Gerald Nabarro, addressed the Malvern Conservative Ladies' Tea Club, saying, 'We have enough black men in this country. I call a chair a chair. I mean black men, not immigrants. I don't mind Australians and South Africans or any other white immigrants, but I do object to more impoverished black men, Indians and Pakistanis, coming in.' It is unimaginable that today an MP would confidently say such things in public without fear of recrimination.
In our schools, black parents in the 1970s expressed their concerns about their children being labelled as 'educationally subnormal' or 'remedial'. By 1985, the Swann Report on Multiracial Education was arguing that the problem facing the education system was not how to educate ethnic minority children, but how to educate all children for life in a multiracial and multicultural society. Today, parental worries might focus on exclusions, bullying or school choice.
Today's blog post is written by Kam Gill, research and policy analyst at Runnymede
David Cameron last week launched an(other) attack on the European Court of Human Rights, this time arguing that it consumes itself with cases that are too trivial. Leaving aside the unexplained category of ‘trivial’ human rights, this latest salvo, and previous Conservative objections, caused me to reflect on the concept of human rights, and their potential role for race equality. It seems that this, now often maligned, concept suffers from a lack of clarity of its own. This lies behind much criticism of the idea, the treaty which embodies it, and the court established to uphold that treaty.
The convention on human rights is often condemned as a “criminal’s charter”. The root of this criticism is the claim that the convention, with its insistence upon processes and mechanisms which ensure fair and equal treatment, in some way prioritises the rights of the accused at the cost of the victims of their crimes. Exactly what rights should be granted to these “victims” is often left ill-defined. Presumably it is not the right to inflict arbitrary punishment upon anyone accused of crime, though this sometimes seems to be the implication.
Today’s post is written by Dr Robin Oakley, a Runnymede Fellow
The successful prosecution of two men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 may at last provide some closure for members of the Lawrence family. However this should not be allowed to justify – as some seem to be arguing – any relaxation of efforts to eliminate racism, whether in its overt forms such as racist violence, or in the more subtle institutional forms identified by the Lawrence Inquiry.
As regards racist violence, it is also important that continuing to focus on the task of bringing perpetrators to justice should not be allowed to divert attention from the need to address also the issue of prevention. Nearly 20 years after Stephen’s death, the reality is that racist violence continues to take place extensively across the country, as both official statistics and several recent serious incidents demonstrate. And the great majority of these incidents are still perpetrated by young people – and in particular by young men, as in the case of Stephen’s murder.
Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's director, Dr Rob Berkeley
Some justice being delivered 19 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence is, in the words of the indefatigable Doreen Lawrence, ‘not a cause for celebration’. The successful conviction of these brutal killers after 19 years is a stark reminder about the ways in which racism operates in our society. Stephen Lawrence was killed simply for being black. His family had to wait so long for justice simply because they are black.
In the aftermath of this court case we must resist the temptation to declare mission accomplished on tackling racism in our society. More than 100 people have died at the hands of racists in the UK since Stephen Lawrence’s murder. Many other families are still waiting for justice. The way the Lawrence family were treated was disgraceful; institutional racism, pure and simple. Despite changes in the law, our police, schools, councils and health service still regularly offer a worse service for people from black communities; black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, three times more likely to be excluded from school, have to make twice as many applications before getting a job interview if they have an African or Asian sounding name, and are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to their white neighbours.
Click here to access Runnymede's report The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On
Posted by Vicki 20 December 2011 : criminal justice ,
Today's post is written by Kam Gill, Runnymede's Research and Policy Analyst
According to Theresa May the riots were ‘pure thievery’ and we should focus ‘the victims, because they are the ones who really matter’. Much ink has been spilled in recent months hypothesising about the causes of the riots, and the Home Secretary’s statements demonstrate a key flaw in much of our thinking about the August disturbances and riots in general. If the riots were pure criminality why did it take a police killing to set them off? If they were an act of political defiance, why all the emphasis on trainers and TVs?
At ‘Reading the Riots’, a conference discussing the results of Paul Lewis (Guardian) and Tim Newburn’s (LSE) recent survey of rioters motivations, May’s speech was one of a number of occasions where this attitude surfaced. I believe that two claims form the basis of a lot of the discussion around the August disturbances and that they are premised on mistaken assumptions about the behaviour involved.
Posted by Vicki 17 August 2011 : criminal justice ,
Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's policy and research analyst, Kamaljeet Gill
As a member of StopWatch, I recently joined a group of police officers, academics, legal experts and activists at a roundtable conference on police initiated stops at New York’s John Jay College. The conference covered a wide variety of topics: from the legal basis for stops in both countries, the sociology of stereotypes in policing, to the efficacy of litigation over legislation and grass roots organising.
I would like to focus on one point that formed a leitmotif for me. Prior to leaving for New York I had assumed that the US would be worse than the UK in terms of police practice (particularly stops), the regulation of police actions and legal protection of citizens. Despite the deaths of Mark Duggan and Smiley Culture this year alone, the assumption was pretty securely in place when the conference began on Wednesday 11 August.
In terms of levels of violence inflicted upon citizens and the degree of accountability they face for such violence, British police forces are a world away from US policing. Significantly, policing in America is decentralised and highly political. The majority of police work is performed by one of 17,000 localised police forces. This means that any federal laws which might restrict the scope for discrimination or violence on the part of the police are difficult if not impossible to enforce at state or city level. The political nature of policing means that even if a force wishes to be more liberal, they can find themselves prevented by the tough platform of their elected commissioners.
Our head of policy, Omar Khan, writes on the term 'gang' and the UK riots
Runnymede has been urging caution on speculating on the causes of the riots that are now hopefully over in London and other English cities. Politicians have been somewhat more careful in jumping to conclusions than our media, but today the Prime Minster showed less compunction in identifying the causes of the riots, an incaution that unfortunately spread across the government and opposition benches.
According to Cameron: "gangs were at the heart of the protests and have been behind the coordinated attacks". While there is some anecdotal evidence that some criminal gangs may have taken advantage of the riots on the second and third day of rioting, the majority of rioters were obviously not gang members.
We have warned in the past about the explanatory usefulness of ‘gangs’. As we put it in a recent publication, ‘Rethinking Gangs', '"the gang" provides a potent shortcut to understanding youth conflict, offering Hollywood style images of urban chaos and random violence, threatening to spill out from inner city ghettos, in the place of more complex explanations exploring the realities of this phenomenon.’
The suggestion that US police familiar with handling gang violence will be asked to advise on responding to these riots goes against consistent findings that there is no evidence of US-style gangs in the UK. But the idea that policy should tackle gangs more directly is not limited to importing a US police official, nor is it simply a Conservative fascination. Indeed, policymakers’ likely definition of a ‘gang’ will probably flow from that defined in a 2009 Act passed by the previous government. It defines ‘gang related violence as follows:
Today's blog post is written by our director, Dr Rob Berkeley
The scenes beamed around the world of Tottenham in flames are a tragedy. A tragedy for the already vulnerable people of Tottenham whose lives and livelihoods have been put at unnecessary risk, a tragedy for a city that had begun to imagine itself as an exemplar of good relations between people from different backgrounds, but also a tragedy for our politics that creates the situation in which street disturbances of this kind can happen.
The image of the hooded youth aiming a missile at police lines against a backdrop of burning vehicles is too reminiscent of the riots of thirty years ago to be ignored. We may have told ourselves that those days could never return, but we have simply failed to examine the evidence. There is no excuse for rioting, but it is crucial that we understand the context in which it happens.
In 1981 we could look at the disenfranchisement and despair among large sections of London youth. In education there was a 20 point-gap in achievement between Black and White youth. In Haringey schools this year that gap had increased to one of 35 points.
In 1981 we could highlight the levels of youth unemployment - which reached as high as 45%. Currently 20% of White young people are unemployed, 40% of Pakistani youth and half of all Black youth.
In 1981 we noted poor relationships between the police and young people with the now infamous 'sus' laws. Reports earlier this year highlighted that Black men were 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white men. Under some powers such as Section 60 this rises to 26 times more likely. Effective policing would clearly be welcomed by a community such as that in Tottenham where people are much more likely to be victims of crime. Effective policing is based on trust and consent, rather than antagonism and suspicion.
This post was also published on Left Foot Forward
So we’re back to what is becoming an old chestnut; as the latest senior politician condemns multiculturalism. On Saturday, David Cameron took his place, behind Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Trevor Phillips, arguing that “state multiculturalism” has encouraged “different cultures to live separate lives” with a particular Cameron twist – that the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism. Surely, such a panoply of senior politicians should have been able to organize the end of so-called state multiculturalism by now – unless of course it never existed in the first place, they do not really mean it, or the alternatives are simply too unattractive to countenance.
A key problem in debates around multiculturalism is that the term means different things to different people. Some believe that multiculturalism actively promotes separate religious and ethnic identities at the expense of common values, whilst others believe that it simply means the existence and recognition of different identities in a shared political space within a framework of human rights. Runnymede’s understanding of the term has always been the latter.
Posted by Vicki 04 February 2011 : criminal justice ,
Controversial changes to stop and search powers were passed in parliament yesterday, despite campaigns from race equality and human rights organisations. The changes include a substantial reduction of the information recorded on stop and search forms, which will now make it impossible to measure repeat stops and harassment; the effectiveness of a stop and search; and any misuse of force. In addition, police will no long be required to record the use of “stop and account”, which will make it impossible to determine if stop powers are being used proportionately and remove local community scrutiny of stop practices.
These changes were introduced as amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code of Practice A, and were passed in parliament as a statutory instrument yesterday by a House of Commons legislation committee. A number of concerns were raised in the committee, particularly by Labour MPs David Lammy and Vernon Coaker.
Lammy in particular criticized the government for not widely consulting with Black and minority ethnic communities – who are more likely to be stopped and searched – before introducing the changes, particularly given the social unrest historically associated with disproportionate use of stop and search. In response, Policing Minister Nick Herbert MP stated that he now recognizes this concern, adding that the need for wider consultation has been taken as “lesson learnt for the future”.
Lammy added that whilst he understands the government’s desire to reduce the amount of bureaucracy faced by the police, he firmly stated that this must not come at the cost of good community relations.
Today's blog post is written by our public affairs intern Ashley Burton-Lynch
In a session on the forthcoming business of the House of Commons, Labour MP Chuka Umunna urged the government to hold a debate on its proposed changes to stop and search. He added that it would be particularly important to focus on the equality implications of their proposals to reduce the amount of information police are required to record under stop and search.
Umunna, who is Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) to Ed Miliband, made it clear there is a need for such a debate, voicing his opinion that the changes “will make it impossible to check properly whether their use is proportionate and non-discriminatory”. The Streatham MP went on to mention the fact that campaign groups such as StopWatch have questioned the intended benefits of these proposed changes – these include the claim from the Policing Minister Nick Herbert MP that 450,000 hours of police time would be saved.
George Young, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, responded that it was important a “consensus” is reached on what the impact of the changes will be and suggested that a meeting between the Home Office and StopWatch was a potential “way forward”.
Conservative MP Richard Fuller has highlighted the potential impact stop and search changes will have on ethnic minorities in parliament this month. The Bedford MP expressed his concerns in a Westminster Hall debate on the issue, which he tabled following discussions with Runnymede and StopWatch – an action group focused on ethnic disproportionality in stop and search.
Fuller pointed out that a black person is at least six times as likely, and an Asian person twice as likely, than a white person to be stopped and searched by the police. He added that plans to reduce the amount of information recorded on a stop and search form and the removal stop and account may result in the loss of important information needed to reduce these inequalities. You can read his full speech – which outlines in detail a number of other important concerns with stop and search – here.
The policing minister Nick Herbert MP responded to the speech by defending the government’s approach. StopWatch has a number of concerns with his response, which are detailed in full on the StopWatch website.
Home secretary and equalities minister Rt Hon Theresa May MP updated parliamentarians on the government’s work on race equality last week. In a joint meeting between the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on Race and Community and Equalities, May faced questions from MPs and members of the public on issues including stop and search, gypsies and travellers, the Equality Act and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Of particular note, May shed more light on the fate of the EHRC following the government’s recent quango review which announced that the work of the body will be significantly reduced. Stating that the EHRC will be “radically reformed”, she announced that the government is looking at how some of its functions can be filled by the big society.
MPs David Lammy (Labour) and Richard Fuller (Conservative) focused on criminal justice, asking questions on stop and search and incarceration rates respectively. May did not answer Lammy’s question on whether a reduction of monitoring will lead to even higher disporportionality of Black and Asian people stopped and searched. However, May responded to Fuller’s question on the over-representation of Black men in the UK prison system by saying that a “holistic approach” is needed in dealing with the problem which focuses on sentencing, but also on opportunities for young people.
It is worth highlighting however that despite questioning from attendees on the issue, May tended not focus on race equality issues unless pushed. In her opening address to the group, May highlighted the work the government is undertaking in relation to other equality strands – such as gender and LGBT issues – but said nothing on its plans on race. It may be that the issue is not a priority for the government or – as May said in response to a question from Race on the Agenda – it may become more of a priority in the future. However given the stark racial inequalities that exist in the UK today, if now is not the time prioritise race equality, when is?
Runnymede acts as Secretariat for the APPG on Race and Community. For more information on the group, as well as a podcast of last week’s event, visit our APPG webpage.
In the final wave of answers to parliamentary written answers from the government last week, home office minister Baroness Neville-Jones provided figures for the amount of funding paid through the Prevent scheme, and re-iterated the government’s commitment to review the scheme by January 2011.
Responding to a questions from Conservative peer Lord Sheikh, Neville-Jones said that funding specifically paid through the Prevent counterterrorism programme by the Home Office, Office for Security and Counter-terrorism (OSCT), in the financial year 2009-10 was approximately £30 million. She added that Prevent activity is also funded separately by other government departments.
In the final wave of answers to written questions pre-summer recess, the government has stated that it intends to publish data on victims of racist offences in the summer of 2011. The announcement was made following a written question tabled by crossbench peer Lord Ouseley asking whether the government has, or intends to publish, national data on victims of racist incidents broken down by ethnicity. No such data is currently available.
Lib Dem peer Lord McNally responded for the government, adding that such data has been collected and returned centrally on victims of racist offences, but have not yet been published “due to concerns over the quality and comparability of the data”.
You can read the full answer here.
Today's blog post was written by Runnymede's public affairs intern Farrah Sheikh
During her maiden speech, the latest Lib Dem addition to the House of Lords - Baroness Hussein-Ece - highlighted severe overcrowding and overrepresentation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in UK prisons. Currently, this is 27% of the total prison population.
Baroness Hussein-Ece argued that we need to change the way we deal with offenders, focusing on prevention, support, and rehabilitation. She told the House that many offenders suffered from poor mental health and that their issues were only noticed when inside prison. Showing her passion for this issue, she argued that prisons should not be expanded and more meaningful ways of reducing the prison population needed to be looked at. Favouring a more holistic approach, Baroness Hussein- Ece said there needed to be partnerships between mental health trusts and local authorities who ought to allocate proper resources for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse.
The Baroness declared that budget cuts should not be used as an excuse to avoid this problem, adding that taxpayers currently pay around £40,000 per annum per prisoner. She believes that it is far more financially viable to focus on reducing the prison population by giving people the help and support that they need before entering a life of crime. She added that this is especially important as much of the ethnic minority prison population were found to have untreated mental health problems only when they entered the prison system.
The Home Secretary Theresa May has today announced that a “rapid review” of counter-terrorism and security powers is currently underway.
Following May’s announcement last week that stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 will be immediately scrapped, the following areas will also be reviewed:
- The use of control orders
- The use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography
- The detention of terrorist suspects before charge
- Extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign nationals from the UK “who pose a threat to national security”
- Measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence
- The use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities, and access to communications data more generally.
The review will be carried out by the Home Office, with oversight from Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions. Lord Macdonald was made a Liberal Democrat life peer in May this year.
Posted by Vicki 30 June 2010 : criminal justice ,
The Guardian Law blog has today published an article on stop and search by Runnymede’s research and policy analyst Kjartan Sveinsson. In the article, Kjartan argues that cuts in the policing budget could have an impact on race relations, particularly given the government’s plans to scrap the stop and search monitoring form. He adds that uncontrolled and unmonitored stop and search can lead to stereotyping and discrimination, highlighting that black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
You can read Kjartan's full article here.
Following blog posts written by Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg for the Operation Black Vote blog outlining their parties’ race equality policies, Theresa May has today highlighted how the Tories plan to help BME communities.
May – who is the party’s equalities spokesperson – argues in the post that the Conservative Party is committed tacking discrimination and promoting equality. She states that there is clear evidence that race is a “key influence” on individual achievement, highlighting the disproportionate number of black children excluded from school and the low numbers of BME students attending Oxford University.
She states that the party supported the Equality Act in parliament and adds that the Equality and Human Rights Commission will have a continuing role in protecting the rights of individuals and groups.
Following Gordon Brown’s post on the Operation Black Vote blog yesterday, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has followed suit with a post on his party’s policies for BME communities.
Arguing that the Lib Dems will ensure that the statute book protects BME communities, Clegg states that his party will uphold the Human Rights Act and support the EHRC.
Highlighting the over-representation of black men in the criminal justice system, he argues that the Lib Dems will make stop and search intelligence led and will remove innocent people from the DNA database. He also labels CLG’s PREVENT programme as one which “alienates” Muslim communities.
The government’s controversial Crime and Security Bill received Royal Assent last week. Of particular interest, the bill allows DNA profiles of convicted offenders to be kept indefinitely and for the profiles of those who have been arrested but not convicted to be kept on database for a fixed period of time.
The bill also introduces a mandatory parenting needs assessment when young people aged ten to 15 are being considered for an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) and parenting orders where they have breached their ASBOs.
Runnymede recently held an e-conference on ethnic profiling in the criminal justice system, which touched on issues including the DNA database, ASBOs and stop and search. Of particular interest, Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green MP wrote an article as part of the conference calling for a smaller and more targeted DNA database, whilst Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne MP outlined his thoughts on stop and search. You can still access the e-conference on our website.
The government has today called on local councils to make use of ASBOs and other powers to tackle antisocial behaviour explicitly "associated with Gypsies and Travellers". In new guidance published today, the government states that perceptions that the communities are treated differently from the rest of the population “damages public confidence about fair treatment for all”.
It is worrying that the government has singled out an ethnic group in this way for differential treatment in relation to crime prevention measures. This is especially concerning given that Runnymede found in its 2006 report on ASBOs that there is currently no systematic ethnic monitoring of antisocial behaviour tools and as a result, it is impossible to tell whether these tools are being used in a discriminatory way.
It is also a concern that by portraying the Gypsy and Traveller communities as a particular problem the government could potentially be legitimising a backlash against these groups.
Harriet Harman MP and the rest of the equalities ministerial team were up for oral questions in the House of Commons yesterday, and faced a barrage of questions on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Following from my earlier post on the EHRC, the equalities watchdog was under further scrutiny from MPs with questions focusing on its expenditure and why the government renewed Trevor Philips chairmanship without putting up the post for open competition. In response to the latter, Harman said that Phillips was retained as chair because she felt “continuity of leadership” was needed.
Also of interest, Lib Dem equalities spokesperson Lynne Featherstone MP echoed comments she made in her essay on the Liberal Democrats and Race Equality, published by Runnymede earlier this month, by saying that the EHRC should devote more time to using its powers to hold businesses and public bodies to account.
The EHRC received some praise however, with Keith Vaz MP welcoming its recent report highlighting the disproportionality of stop and search powers.