Detailed surveys show support for right-wing political parties is less about racism than real and imagined loss of ‘Britishness’, including traditions like nativity plays and the right to smack children.1 In any case the problem is largely conjectural – only 15 per cent think immigration causes problems in their own area2 – and racial attitudes are especially liberal where black people are most common, as in London.3 Most young people are embarrassed at the casual racism and xenophobia of past generations, which is now almost universally regarded as deplorable.4
1‘They’re thinking what we’re thinking’, Lord Ashcroft poll of 20,000 adults supplemented by fourteen focus groups, 2012. Those attracted to parties like UKIP were more preoccupied with Europe and immigration than other voters but such ‘policies are secondary. It is much more to do with outlook.’ [http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/theyre-thinking-what-were-thinking.pdf]
2 Ipsos-MORI poll commissioned by the Sun newspaper in 2007 including ‘both legal and illegal immigrants’.
3 UK public opinion towards immigration: overall attitudes and levels of concern, The Migration Observatory, University of Oxford, 2012. [http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-immigration-overall-attitudes-and-level-concern]
4 How fair is Britain? Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010, Equality and Human Rights Commission Triennial Review 2010: ‘despite the undoubted presence of many kinds of residual prejudice and bigotry, we are becoming a largely more tolerant and open-minded people. Most of us are far more at ease with human difference than were our parents’ (p. 637). [http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/triennial_review/how_fair_is_britain_-_complete_report.pdf] Some commentators have suggested that these more relaxed attitudes have allowed people and institutions to be colour-blind. But, on the contrary, acknowledging someone’s racial features is now less of a taboo. As the American comic Reginald D Hunter points out, colour can be one of the most obvious things about another human being so if you don’t notice, ‘It don’t mean you’re not racist. It means you’re not observant”.
People who describe themselves as black are far more likely to get into trouble than whites.1 Compared to whites there are one-and-a-half times as many mixed race and Asian people in prison in England and Wales, and four times more blacks.
1A word on terms likes ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’. I adopt the language that most people use in ordinary conversations to describe themselves. Thus people with translucent pinkish skins are white, those with chocolate skins are black, people with both black and white inheritance are black (or sometimes mixed race), and people from the Indian sub-continent are Asian. The language is crude but plain and when I need to distinguish more carefully I do. In any case these terms are compatible with the UK census and with the ethnic monitoring provisions of Section 95 of the 1991 Criminal Justice Act. Other British minority ethnic groups, such as Chinese and Jews, have only recently been reported on separately in the context of crime. Incidentally, it is a measure of how deeply ingrained colour prejudice was that almost invariably mixed-race people used to be regarded (and often regarded themselves) as black as opposed to white. Only recently has there been widespread celebration of dual heritage.
2The figures above exclude foreign nationals (who make up about 10 per cent of the male and 20 per cent of the female prison population in England and Wales) and are from Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2010 published by the Ministry of Justice. [http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/criminal-justice/race] compared to the 2011 Census: KS201EW Ethnic group, local authorities in England and Wales, Office of National Statistics, 2012 [http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-286262]. About one in four of the prison population comes from a minority ethnic group compared to one in eleven of the general population. This is an improvement from 2005 when black people were five times overrepresented in prison, estimated at 1,140 per 100,000 compared to 170 per 100,000 of the white population. (Statistics for ethnicity of prisoners in England and Wales have been published every year since 1985. Consistent ethnic monitoring within the police service started ten years later and the first annual figures became available in 1997.) In the US there are seven times more blacks than whites locked up.
Prejudice is not simply a legacy of colonialism. It is part of the human condition. It is latent deep within us and takes many forms: colour and religious intolerance, sectariaism, tribalism, caste systems, chauvinism, strident nationalism.
It is especially important to understand that race is not a meaningful biological concept and that racist ideology is wrong scientifically as much as ethically. There are far more gene differences within populations that between those of differently pigmented skin. Nonetheless, race “has a powerful tradition of putting people together in different categories [and] because race is a shared experience, it can join people together who aren’t closely related.” (She has her mother’s laugh by Carl Zimmer, Picador, 2018.)
We have made it a criminal offence to give preference to people ‘like us’ in most aspects of our daily lives.
The Race Relations Act of 1968 forbade anyone providing goods, facilities or services to differentiate unfairly on grounds of colour, race, religion, ethnicity or national origins, and it was followed by a whole panoply of laws against inciting racial hatred, or even insult, and demanding we treat people equally regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Other anti-discrimination laws include the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (amended by Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and Part 11 of Schedule 9 Protection of Freedoms Act 2012); and incitement to racial hatred banned under sections 17-29 and 29B-29G of the Public Order Act 1986. [See: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/racist_and_religious_crime/#a21]
Migrants are only contentious for a while. Most countries, and Britain in particular, have seen waves of immigration through the centuries,transforming the very essence of the Realm.
The history of the British Isles has been defined by migration, as have those of other ‘Anglo-Saxon’ nations, notably the Americas and Australasia. Some of the influx caused tumult – much more so than now when net immigration is at unprecedented levels – but all the incomers became absorbed in time and generally the process was unremarkable. It is hard to be precise about numbers because, while the US counted race from its first census in 1790 (though only because slaves counted less than free men), the UK census did not begin studying ethnicity until 1991. But scattered historical evidence such as military records points to more intermingling than is sometimes acknowledged. The Royal Navy, in particular, proves to have been surprisngly multicultural at least two centuries ago. For example, among those who fought with Nelson on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1803, 515 were English by birth, 88 Irish, 67 Scottish, 30 Welsh, 1 African, 22 American, 1 Brazilian, 2 Canadian, 2 Danish, 7 Dutch, 4 French, 2 German, 2 Indian, 1 Jamaican, 6 Maltese, 2 Norwegian, 1 Portuguese, 4 Swedish, 2 Swiss and 4 West Indian. (Source: Portsmouth Dockyard, historical plaque.)
Familiarity breeds respect. Prejudices tend to subside, and then move on…
Prejudices against migrants generally recede with assimilation, but they can sometimes flare up again, as Jews have long known. The most abiding prejudices usually have politics or religion, not migration, at their heart, and they, of course can persist for centuries. Religion, not race or immigration, has been the most divisive force in the British Isles since the sixteenth century, provoking civil war, attempts at invasion, repeated conflicts in Ireland, and inspiring discriminatory laws, some of which are still in force (e.g. Roman Catholics cannot become, or even marry, British monarchs). In England, at least, these are now consigned to history, and nowadays Catholics as happily as Protestants burn effigies of a Catholic on bonfires each November Guy Fawkes night.
While wariness of strangers may be universal, each community’s prejudices are shaped by its history
In Europe the targets might be Jews, Slavs or gypsies; in Australia, native aboriginals; in the US it was the ‘Red Indians’ or ‘barbarians’ imported by the slave trade, and more recently Hispanics; elsewhere it might be Hutus and Tutsis, Tamils and Singhalese, Hindus and Sikhs, Armenians and Turks, Shia and Sunni, Protestant and Catholic or Islamic fundamentalists.
Up to the early 1970s it was generally held that blacks were more law-abiding than the natives.
For an excellent account of these issues up to the mid-1990s see David J. Smith, Ethnic origins, crime, and criminal justice in England and Wales, Crime and Justice, Vol. 21, Ethnicity, Crime and Immigration: Comparative and Cross-National Perspectives, University of Chicago Press, 1997.
The authorities responded with stops and searches under ‘sus’ laws dating back to the Napoleonic wars
The right to stop and search a citizen dated from the Vagrancy Act 1824 and was repealed in 1981 only to be replaced with similar powers under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act and then supplemented by anti-terrorist legislation notably section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act. Incidentally not all stops involve searches and official figures at times have counted one rather than the other. For a time some stops did not have to be recorded.
Given that racism was tolerated and even widespread at the time, it would be surprising if prejudice was not a significant factor in policing.1 Formal monitoring was introduced in the early 1990s and grievances declined, but in 2010 black people were still seven times more likely, and Asians twice as likely, to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.2
1The mainstream criminological view has been quite straightforward: that black people have been over-represented in prison because society has been so steeped in racial prejudice. For the best of text books with this classic liberal-left interpretation see Ben Bowling and Coretta Phillips, Racism, Crime and Justice, Longman, 2002. There is certainly clear evidence of straightforward racism in the US. A Bayesian analysis of shootings by American police found that the probability of being killed while unarmed was 3.49 times higher for blacks than whites with some counties showing relative risk ratios of 20:1 or more. (Cody Taylor Ross, ‘A multi-level Bayesian analysis of racial bias in police shootings at the county level in the United States, 2011-2014, PLoS ONE 10(11): e0141854. 5 Nov 2015. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141854.)
2 Most of the statistics in this section come from the annual Ministry of Justice report on how black and minority ethnic (BME) people in England and Wales are represented in the criminal justice system. See Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2010, Ministry of Justice. Also Alex Jones and Lawrence Singer, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2006/7, Ministry of Justice, London, July 2008. [www.justice.gov.uk/publications/statistics.htm] About a million people are searched by police each year in England and Wales, but as so often, much depends on definitions: when does an encounter become a ‘stop’?
A High Court judge, Sir William Macpherson, borrowed the black activist term ‘institutional racism’ to describe the Metropolitan Police Service
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, The Stationery office, London, 1999, para 6.22.[www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm42/4262/4262.htm]
While he was strongly critical of individual officers, and of a sometimes brusque and bigoted canteen culture, he emphatically rejected the idea that racism was officially sanctioned.
‘It is vital to stress that neither academic debate nor the evidence presented to us leads us to say or to conclude that an accusation that institutional racism exists in the MPS implies that the policies of the MPS are racist. No such evidence is before us. Indeed, the contrary is true.’ (My emphasis.)
Macpherson report, para 6.24, p. 24. This is not to say that there was not widespread racism among serving officers. Anecdotal and other evidence suggests that the police shared common prejudices, that some officers were dangerous bigots, and that there was frequent malpractice. In contrast, though, at least in London the policies and senior command were (according to Macpherson) actually anti-racist.
Macpherson’s careless shorthand is held by some to have inflicted long-term damage to policing, race relations and, above all, crime control.
Mind-Forg’d Manacles: Murder, Macpherson and the [Metropolitan] Police, Jon Gower Davies, Civitas, London, 2012.
Complaints about harassment of black youths go back decades – in 1981 they sparked the Brixton riots, one of England’s worst outbreaks of disorder in a century.
At least 325 people were injured, most of them police officers, and riots spread to other impoverished inner city areas including Toxteth in Liverpool and Moss Side in Manchester.
The police were often brusque (as one witness put it, ‘We do not object to what they do so much as the way they do it’) but white youths also complained to the inquiry, and reported levels of street crime were so high in Brixton that the police faced what Scarman called a genuine ‘dilemma’.
The Brixton Disorders 10–12 April 1981, HMSO, London, 1981, p. 48. There was a time when I could quote passages of this report verbatim. I spent much of a holiday in Italy with an embargoed copy preparing for a TV programme and interview with Lord Scarman. Among seventy recommendations Scarman did call for better monitoring of stop and search, but it was a minor part of his conclusions. Indeed, the first police to be attacked were tending a black youth who was bleeding profusely after having been stabbed (p. 19). The riots were caused by ‘a set of social conditions which create a predisposition towards violent protest’ (p. 16).
… the research did indeed find that ‘street populations’ are very different from ‘resident populations’ – so much so that, in complete contrast to almost everyone’s assumptions, in one location it was whites not blacks who were stopped most compared to the available population. Asians were generally under-represented, and black people had ‘a more mixed experience, sometimes under-represented in stops and searches and sometimes over-represented’.
Joel Miller, Profiling populations available for stops and searches, Police Research Series, Paper 131, Home Office, London, 2000, ISBN 1-84082-538-3. The report also found the police, on the whole, acted reasonably in targeting high-crime areas. But it concluded with a warning: ‘One reaction to this research is that police forces have little to worry about given that it does not indicate any general pattern of bias against those from minority ethnic backgrounds. However, in many respects, the findings of this research are bad news for the police. Most significantly, they suggest that disproportionality is, to some extent, a product of structural factors beyond their control.’
In Reading, police stops were in proportion to racial groups available; while in Slough you were disproportionately more likely to be stopped if you were white.
P. A. J. Waddington, Kevin Stenson and David Don, ‘In proportion: Race, and Police Stop and Search’, British Journal of Criminology, 2004, Vol. 44, 889–914 [doi.10.1093/bjc/azh042] The authors concluded that ideological polarisation had created entrenched positions that are resistant to evidence and cool analysis.
In an unpublished note the Thames Valley researchers concluded that in more than a third of cases officers had stopped white people just to try to get the racial proportions right. Since police generally only have powers to stop where they have ‘reasonable suspicion’, these actions were presumably unlawful.
Private correspondence with the report’s lead author, 2012.
After bomb attacks on tube trains and a bus in 2005, the police, notably in London, began widespread street searches, almost doubling the number of white people stopped, but trebling searches of black and Asian people.
James Riley, Davnet Cassidy and Jane Becker, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2007/08, Ministry of Justice, April 2009. White people accounted for 70 per cent of searches and 89 per cent of arrests but made up 90 per cent of the population. Black, Asian and mixed-race people accounted for almost 24 per cent of stops but made up less than 8 per cent of the population. [http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/docs/stats-race-criminal-justice-system-07-08-full.pdf]
… the official anti-terrorism watchdog accused the police of stopping white people unjustifiably to balance out the figures. Many of these searches, he said, were ‘self-evidently unmerited’ and ‘almost certainly’ illegal.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, quoted in The Times, London, 18 June 2009.
As a quite different inquiry, the Philips Commission on criminal procedure concluded, young men easily feel alienated and, regardless of race, voice much the same complaints about what they see as oppressive behaviour.
The Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (Cmnd 8092, 1981) was established in 1977 following the wrongful convictions in a murder case. It was chaired by Sir Cyril Philips and concluded that it would be natural if young black men felt persecuted, unaware that white youths felt just the same; and naturally blacks would be more likely than whites to interpret it as racial prejudice.
Fewer than 10 per cent of stop and searches result in an arrest.
About 1.3 million people are arrested every year in England and Wales of which 8 per cent are through stop and search (whites 7 per cent, Asians 11 per cent, blacks 13 per cent).
It certainly seems so given that startling fact that blacks are roughly three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested in general than Caucasians. They are also a third less likely to be cautioned.
James Riley, Davnet Cassidy and Jane Becker, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2007/08, Ministry of Justice, April 2009.
… several studies have shown that black males are less likely to come clean than white people, either for cultural reasons or through mistrust of the system.1 This reluctance alone was long ago shown to be enough to explain the cautioning disparity.2
1Differences or Discrimination? The Summary of the Report on Ethnic Minority Young People in the Criminal Justice System, Youth Justice Board, 2004, p. 9; D. Westwood, ‘Cautioning and the Limits of Ethnic Monitoring’, Probation Journal, 1991; Nature and Extent of Young Black People’s Overrepresentation, Home Affairs Select Committee 2nd Report, 22 May 2007.
2Marion FitzGerald, Ethnic Minorities and the Criminal Justice Systems, Royal Commission on Criminal Justice Research Study No. 20, HMSO, London, 1993.
While black youths may be no more dishonest than their white counterparts,1 they seem prone to commit the sort of offence, the contact crimes, thefts and drug deals, most likely to lead to an arrest.2 This is partly because, like immigrants through history, they are more likely to live in rougher areas. In fact they are especially vulnerable to being victims of crime. But it is also because – and this is a potentially flammable assertion – there are cultural differences between different population groups.3
1Several studies suggest black people are as trustworthy as anyone else and victims interviewed by the British Crime Survey do not disproportionately cite black offenders (though oddly victims are slightly more likely to report theft-type crimes to the police if an ethnic minority offender was involved but are less likely to do so in crimes involving violence). In fact, on self-report questionnaires, where youngsters confess to crimes anonymously, whites admit to more offending, but maybe this is because of unwillingness to own up by young black males. See Clare Sharp and Tracey Budd, Minority ethnic groups and crime: Findings from the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey 2003, Home Office Online Report 33/05, November 2005. [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr3305.pdf]
2Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System, Home Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2006–7, Vol. 1, Stationery Office, London, 22 May 2007, p. 17. [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmhaff/181/181i.pdf]
3 Ibid. This report is largely anecdotal but witnesses drew attention to a large number of cultural as well as social factors which can have negative effects until populations feel absorbed into the host culture. With some black youths there were said to be various parenting issues including external rather than internalised discipline. In addition, given a lack of positive male role models, ‘some young people also actively choose to emulate negative and violent lifestyles popularised in music and film’ (p. 5).
When figures were disaggregated in 2004, it turned out that black Caribbeans were twice as likely to be banned as white kids. But black Africans were excluded at the same rate as white Britons.
School exclusions by ethnic group 2003/04, figures supplied by the Department for Education and Science, London. Rowdy, violent and disruptive children can be sent home from school, and in severe cases they can be permanently expelled. In the period surveyed almost 1 per cent of black Caribbean pupils faced time-limited exclusions and 0.4 per cent were banned.
In Leeds the big concern was Caribbean groups supplying drugs, while in Manchester the problem seemed to be the growing involvement of Somalis in crime.1 In London, when the Trident task force was set up to tackle a spate of ‘black-on-black’ homicide, police found that most of the violence began with immigrants from Jamaica, as opposed to, say, Trinidad or Tobago. Partly as a result Jamaicans were hugely over-represented in prison.2
1Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System, Home Affairs Committee , Second Report of Session 2006–7, Vol. 1, Stationery Office, London, 22 May 2007, pp. 24–5. [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmhaff/181/181i.pdf]
2In 2005/6 Jamaicans accounted for 1,550 of 10,000 foreign nationals in prison in England and Wales, ten times the proportion for most countries. Nigerians were also greatly over-represented with 878 inmates. Times leader, 3 November 2006.
At any rate, all the research and all the inquiries have reached a similar conclusion to that of the Select Committee: that ‘it is difficult to quantify or pinpoint’ bias by police.
Ibid. (Home Affairs Committee), p.44.
Twice as many black as white youths are kept in pre-trial custody.
Ibid., p. 49.
So far as youth courts are concerned, black children are about twice as likely as whites to be given detention orders, but the numbers are small
In 2005/6 there were 1,100 remands for black youths (1:10 of those arrested) and 4,600 for whites (1:20). If ‘mixed race’ are added to the black category remands rise to just under 1,500 (1:12). Source: Youth Justice Board. [www.yjb.gov.uk/Publications/Resources/Downloads/Youth%20Justice%20Annual%20Statistics%202005-06.pdf]
Pilot studies of ethnic monitoring, and more recent statistics gathered from the courts by the Ministry of Justice, concur that proportionally more white defendants are convicted (60 per cent) than blacks (52 per cent) or Asians (44 per cent).
Alex Jones and Lawrence Singer, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2006/7, Ministry of Justice, London, July 2008, p. 58. [www.justice.gov.uk/publications/statistics.htm] Note: complete ethnic statistics to the quality threshold required were available for only seven police districts.
It does seem that the nature of the offence rather than the colour of the defendant is the decisive factor – and has been since at least the 1980s.
The only credible comparable study was from the mid-1980s, and it found no differences in the way black and white offenders were dealt with by magistrates. See The ethnic group of those proceeded against or sentenced by the courts in the Metropolitan Police district in 1984 and 1985, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 6/89, Home Office, London, 1989.
On average 78 per cent of whites were convicted compared to 69 per cent of blacks and 68 per cent of Asians.
Gordon Barclay and Bonny Mhlanga, Ethnic differences in decisions on young defendants dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service, Section 95 Findings No. 1, Home Office, London. This study also indicated that all races are fairly represented on London juries in proportion to the local catchment area. [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ERORecords/HO/415/1/rds/pdfs/sec95findings1.pdf]
Black and ethnic minority jurors (and whites too, to some extent) were more lenient to black and Asian defendants than to white ones, apparently hoping to compensate for what they assumed was race bias in the system.
Cheryl Thomas, ‘Diversity and Fairness in the Jury System’, Ministry of Justice Research Series 2/07, London, June 2007, ISBN 978 1 84099 079 9. [http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/JuriesReport2-07-webVersion.pdf]
Three years later a further large-scale simulation found even more emphatically that there was no evidence of unfair discrimination. If anything, all-white juries ‘were least likely to convict the black defendant and most likely to convict the white defendant’.
Cheryl Thomas, ‘Are juries fair?’, Ministry of Justice Research Series 1/10, February 2010, p. 16. [www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/research-and-analysis/moj-research/are-juries-fair-research.pdf]
Whatever the reasons, monitoring by the Ministry of Justice has found the results continue to be reflected in real-life trials: slightly more whites are convicted than blacks or Asians.
Alex Jones and Lawrence Singer, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2006/7, Ministry of Justice, London, July 2008, p. 67.
If juries are not unfair to black people, what about the judges who sentence them? The first review of this came in the early 1990s.
Roger Hood, Race and Sentencing, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992. (Back in the 1980s some criminologists had suggested there was a slight sentencing bias, but their methodologies were weak.)
Black defendants were twice as likely to plead not guilty, and judges did not like it. Maybe black defendants were just less truthful, maybe they were more inclined to try to brag it out, maybe they were trying to play the race card, or perhaps they were simply less trusting of the courts.
According to the British Crime Survey, some 12 per cent of black and ethnic minority respondents expect prosecutors and the courts to treat them worse than people of other races. This is twice the rate for whites (6 per cent). These sceptics might not be representative, since in general minority groups seem more content than whites about prosecutors, magistrates, judges, probation and prisons, and as content as whites about the job done by the police. Moreover, black people seem to trust the authorities as much as whites in other respects, expressed in behaviours such as the rate of reporting crime. But it is possible that the cynics are mostly young black males – i.e. those who are more likely to be defendants. See Batool Reza and Christine Magill, Criminal Justice System: An overview to the complete statistics 2004–2005, Home Office CJS, March 2006 [www.poptel.co.uk/statewatch/news/2006/mar/s95race05overview.pdf, pp. 27–8].
Remember, this was a survey conducted in the days when there was less formal emphasis on race equality, and when the race imbalance in prisons was even more striking than it is now; yet it concluded: ‘The theory that this disparity is mostly caused by cumulative bias at the various stages of law enforcement and criminal process is implausible in the light of the fragmentary evidence available.’
David J. Smith, Ethnic origins, crime, and criminal justice in England and Wales, Crime and Justice, Vol. 21, Ethnicity, Crime and Immigration: Comparative and Cross-National Perspectives, University of Chicago Press, 1997, p. 101.
Twenty years later, with ethnic monitoring now routine, the evidence is more emphatic. Black people convicted by a jury are still more likely to go to prison (around 70 per cent) than whites who have been in the same dock (60 per cent) but the proportions mostly ‘reflect the seriousness of the offences committed’.
Alex Jones and Lawrence Singer, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2006/7, Ministry of Justice, London, July 2008, p. 74. ‘As in the previous year, young black people were substantially over-represented compared with white people for robbery offences. Young people from Asian and mixed ethnic backgrounds also showed considerable over-representation for the same offence. These patterns are similar to those in evidence since 2001. The figures also suggest over-representation of black people for drugs offences. The same finding has been reported since 2003.’ These findings have been consistent: e.g. Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2010, Ministry of Justice, 2011. [www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/mojstats/stats-race-cjs-2010.pdf]
At any one time, around a quarter of all blacks in British prisons are foreigners.
Differences or Discrimination? The Summary of the Report on Ethnic Minority Young People in the Criminal Justice System, Youth Justice Board, 2004, p. 9; D. Westwood, ‘Cautioning and the Limits of Ethnic Monitoring’, Probation Journal, 1991; Nature and Extent of Young Black People’s Overrepresentation, Home Affairs Select Committee 2nd Report, 22 May 2007.
… after the turn of the millennium, opinion leaders like Trevor Phillips repudiated the chip-on-the-shoulder black mentality and helped break through the frigid white terror of saying the wrong thing.
Trevor Phillips is a former TV journalist who became a Labour politician and head of Britain’s Commission for Equalities and Human Rights. He is outspoken, pointing out that black Africans were deeply implicated in the slave trade, and warning that British liberals were so appeasing minority groups that the UK was likely to ‘sleepwalk towards segregation’.
At the time even the Daily Mail – the last national paper to have dropped racist crime reporting – was pressing the black agenda.
The Mail had a long history of racist coverage of crime, identifying the colour of every black suspect or offender but never citing colour with crimes committed by whites. When I pointed out to editors that this gave an unbalanced view they rejected any criticism, saying it was fair reporting. Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville, believes he helped bring about a change of heart by reminding the Mail’s editor Paul Dacre that he had done some building work on his house. At any rate Dacre subsequently took a personal interest which led to one of the riskiest and most courageous decisions of modern British journalism, naming five suspects with a 1997 splash headline, ‘Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing’.
… Marian FitzGerald is as unbigoted as they come. She continues to denounce simplistic interpretation of data on ethnicity and crime as ‘statistical racism’.
Marian FitzGerald, ‘“Race”, ethnicity and crime’, in Criminology, eds Chris Hale, Keith Hayward, Azrini Wahidin and Emma Wincup, Oxford University Press, 2013. Marian FitzGerald is now a freelance researcher and a visiting professor at the Kent Crime and Justice Centre. Given how far the authorities had gone to stamp out ‘institutional racism’ she feared most people would not find it credible to go on accusing the police and would assume that ethnic minorities were inherently criminal.
Many praised The Times for its brave stand and some community leaders called for honest self-reflection. Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, warned:
Clearly, as members of the Pakistani community we’ve got to say to ourselves, yes, we’ve got a problem. We’ve got a problem because these people think white girls are worthless, they think they can use these girls. This is not sex, this is rape, these were children and I think we’ve got to speak out against this very openly.1
Others were outraged at what they saw as the scapegoating of Pakistanis. One of hundreds of angry Muslim bloggers complained: ‘The problem isn’t Muslim men grooming girls; the problem is … thousands of young English girls suffering from a breakdown of culture and society.2 The similarities between this sort of racial profiling and previous bigoted regimes is glaring; the Nazi regime regularly produced propaganda denouncing Jews as sexual perverts.’3
1Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, which aims to promote better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, quoted by BBC News, 9 May 2012. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18004153]
2One of hundreds of web postings in a similar vein, this one also assuming that because few ‘Asian’ perpetrators were specifically proved to be Pakistani they obviously weren’t Pakistani.11 May 2012. [http://www.democracyforum.co.uk/immigration/109588-pakistani-sex-grooming-gangs-finally-some-numbers.html]
3 Liberal Conspiracy website, 8 January 2011 [http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/08/why-are-all-pakistani-men-are-being-smeared-in-the-sex-grooming-cases/]
After a two-year investigation into groups of men who were sexually exploiting children, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner found that a quarter of offenders were Asian, some five times greater than the Asian share of population.
Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups: Interim report, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, November 2012, pp. 104–5.
Official research compiled nationally by the policing agency CEOP also found Asians were massively over-represented as offenders.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is the UK’s lead agency for eradicating child sex abuse.
In 2014 an independent inquiry by a child exploitation expert Alexis Jay found that between 1997 and 2013 hundreds of girls suffered, “appalling levels of crime and abuse”. Senior police officers and council officials were so scared of being labelled racist that they chose to, “disbelieve, suppress or ignore,” the evidence that “almost all” the trafficking and rape of children was by men of Pakistani origin. In the wake of the report the Council’s leader and chief executive resigned along with the police and crime commissioner. In February 2015 an even more damning report by Louise Casey, the government’s director general of families programmes, said white leaders were in “collective denial” and had actively suppressed inquiries out of misplaced fears they might have damaged community relations. This time the entire council cabinet resigned. In addition to the authority’s failure to confront endemic child abuse, continuing inquiries by The Times revealed significant corruption focused largely on Asian heritage males within the Council.
By 2015 systematic exploitation of underage non-Asian girls by men of mostly Pakistani heritage had been identified in Rotherham, Oxford, Rochdale, Derby, Telford and Birmingham.
Overall Asians are little more likely than whites to commit the most serious offences.
In 2011, Asians, who made up 5.3 per cent of the UK population accounted for 5.6 per cent of prisoners serving life or indeterminate sentences in England and Wales. Offender Management Statistics Quarterly – earlier editions, 2912: Annual tables – Offender management caseload statistics 2011 tables, Table A1.16. [http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/prisons-and-probation/oms-quarterly/oms-quarterly-editions]