Race Matters

Nottingham by numbers: The widening the racial disadvantage gap

According to the legend, one of Nottingham’s best known figures, Robin Hood, took from the rich and gave to the poor, beginning the tradition of progressive economic redistribution. Ranked the 20th most deprived city in the UK, Nottingham has a history of pursuing progressive measures for tackling deprivation.

The evidence suggests that recent policies under the auspices of the government's neo-liberal orthodoxy on austerity, namely cuts  to the public sector, welfare provision and the academisation of education, are having an adverse impact  on the lives communities and people’s  futures. Within this context, discrimination, disadvantage, racism and deprivation in the Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities have become further heightened and intensified.  Furthermore, it is argued that whilst the structural effects of racism are evident, the effects are often accompanied by increasingly silent and muted discourse on racism, as the terms of articulation, analytical and critical, are dimmed and deleted, distorted and redirected  thus creating a situation of ‘racisms without racism’ (Goldberg, 2007, p 360 in Lisa Palmer, 2014).

Demographic: Ethnic groups

The large majority of people who live in Nottingham are White British. The first wave of migrants to Nottingham in contemporary times came from the Caribbean in the 1950s. According to the 2011 Census, the proportion of BME ethnic groups in Nottingham(shire) is 35.6% . This group comprises of: 13.1% Asian/Asian British, 16.9% Black/Black British, 18.0% Mixed ethnic background and 29.8% other ethnic group (including people from Poland, Travellers and Romanians). The census found the BME population is significantly younger than the rest of the population.

Work and (Un)employment.

Over the last year, Nottingham’s unemployment has fallen by 16.5%, but at a slower rate than the regional and national falls in unemployment.  With regard to ethnicity, according to the 2011 Census, the highest rate of unemployment is 13%, amongst the ‘Mixed’ ethnic group.  The rate for Black/British is 10.4%. The Asian/Asian British is the lowest at 5.4%, which is lower than for the White population (6.5%). The average unemployment was 6.9% - only the mixed group and black group is above this. BME youth unemployment is also disproportionately high.

Education attainment

Analysis of the educational attainment of Nottingham’s BME schoolchildren exposes differences in the rate of attainment but the picture that emerges is both complex and dynamic. Outcomes vary by age, by gender and over time. The Joint Area Review in 2007 identified white British boys and Pakistani boys as groups with poor attainment. However, black children feature disproportionately in exclusion from school.

Research shows that BME staff tends to be under represented at all levels within the local Universities.

Health and well being

The data on the pattern of limiting long term illness (LLTI) which are considered to be determinants of a range of social and environmental conditions under which people live, highlight ethnic inequality in health and well- being.  For instance, people of Indian and Chinese ethnicity show lower rates of LLTI than other groups, whilst the Pakistani and Black Caribbean groups are considerably worse than average.

In relation to age, for people aged 50 to 64, the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups had over 60% with an LLTI compared with 34% of White British people. The statistic for the Indian group was 44.9%, over five times higher than the group’s statistic for 15 to 49 year olds ( the ratio for White British is 2.9).  For Black or Black British people the percentage was 46.5%.

The data for those aged  65 , over 70% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi people have an LLTI, compared with 55.2% of White British people. For the Indian groups the rate is 58.8% and Black or Black British 62.1% (Nottingham City Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2013, p15-16).

Policing, crime and criminal justice

Decades of poor community relations and policing in Nottingham recently led  to  the  commissioning of research by the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commission (in 2013) to explore the relationship between the black minority ethnic (BME) communities and the police. The research report highlighted disproportionality in ‘stop and search’, victims of violent racists attacks are increasingly invisible in Nottingham and there is a lack of diversity in policing.

The report emphasises the need to pursue effective BME recruitment programmes, which meet their operational needs. It also points to improved engagement to increase trust, training issues, accountability, addressing issues of institutional racism.


Black and minority ethnic people in Nottingham, particularly the established minorities, have historically faced huge challenges; it appears that the equality of opportunity and an end to discrimination have not yet been achieved. Whether   in the labour market, healthcare or the criminal justice system, invariably, BME communities are worst of for work, health, likely to be victims of crime and policing but some are doing well in education.

Interested? Here is some further reading: 

“Research Report on Local Authority level Short-term Migration Estimates”, October 2009

Distributing Short-term Migrants to Local Authorities, Research Report, February 2012

Office for National Statistics Census 2011: Number of non-UK short-term residents by sex, local authorities in England and Wales

Office for National Statistics Mid-Year Estimates 2011, September 2012

Nottingham City Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2013: Demography

2001 Census, Profile for Nottingham City

2011 Census Key Statistics. the data relate to people living in households

Palmer,L(2014) ‘The right’s colonization of racial vicitimization’ paper presented at Mapping the Field : Contemporary theories of Race and Racism, BSA Race and Ethnicity Study Group, Newman University, Birmingham, 31st January,2014. EXPLORING AND IMPROVING

Wright, C; Pickup, T and Mohammed, S,BME Policing Experiences Report  ,July 2013,Commissioned by the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Cecile Wright is a Professor of Sociology and Honorary Lecturer at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham
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