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Monday, 28 June 2010


Research published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), reveals dangerously high levels of racial violence in the UK - a violence which is spreading into new areas.

As mainstream parties compete as to which can reduce immigration fastest - ostensibly to defuse community fears - no one asks who actually bears the immediate fall-out of such tensions - Black and Minority Ethnic, asylum-seeker/refugee and migrant communities. As far as the authorities are concerned the Macpherson inquiry (set up in the wake of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993) has dealt with racial violence. It no longer exists, it is no longer a problem issue. But the IRR's report, Racial violence: the buried issue, reveals that, on average, five people a year in the UK have lost their lives to racial violence since Stephen's death - a total of eight-nine victims in seventeen years.

And analysis of 660 racial attacks in 2009 reveals that certain groups of people are particularly at risk: 'dispersed' asylum seekers, newly-arrived migrant workers, those who look Muslim and/or work in isolating trades such as taxi-cabbing, food take-aways, small shops and eateries. The map of violence has changed quite dramatically since studies were first done a generation ago, when primarily areas like Southall, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham witnessed the most racial attacks and racist murders. Such areas are now, in part through struggles against racism, more 'at ease' with their diversity. Today racial violence is on the rise in towns, cities and villages which are only now beginning to change demographically - with the arrival of asylum seekers, migrant workers, overseas students, and the natural movement of settled BME families from the larger conurbations.

According to the report's authors: 'The governments' line that community tension is based solely on new immigration to the UK is partial and opportunistic. The UK is now witnessing an ever-expanding mosaic of different racisms based on different local conditions. And politicians themselves are responsible, through their neglect of poor disadvantaged areas, policies including the demonisation of certain groups and rhetoric around the war on terror, for creating, particularly in areas where competition over scarce resources is keenest, a climate in which racial violence will flourish. The drastic economic cuts of the new government can only make things worse.'

Key statistics

* 89 people have lost their lives in attacks with a racial element since the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

* Victims of attacks are overwhelmingly Asian (45%); Black (18%); Migrant workers (10%). Men are usually the victims of attacks (80%).

* Attacks take place on the street (37.6%); in the home (12%), taxi/taxi offices (10%), takeaways, restaurants, pubs and bars (8.6%); shops (8%); religious institutions and/or people in their vicinity (4.3%).

* 34% of attacks took place at the weekend when perpetrators are often under the influence of drink and drugs.

Download the IRR's Briefing Paper: Racial violence: the buried issue Here (pdf file, 300kb).

Read the IRR's Factfile on the Racially Motivated Murders (Known or Suspected) 2000 onwards
The Institute of Race Relations