[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Is Britain becoming more segregated?
People on high street
Is the UK becoming more divided along racial lines?

Trevor Phillips, leader of the Commission for Racial Equality, has warned that Britain is becoming more racially divided.

Speaking in Manchester, Mr Philips said that, without noticing it, society is "becoming more divided by race and religion" and that the "nightmare" of "fully fledged ghettos" could happen in the country.

However, Mohammed Shafiq, a member of the Liberal Democrats' Muslim Forum, described Mr Phillips' comments "inflammatory and offensive" and called for him to resign.

Do you agree with Trevor Phillips? Is the country becoming more racially separated? Or are the divisions more economic? What measures should be taken to unite communities?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Tim Dennell, UK
Are we becoming a more divided country like America and will we end up with similar inner city ghettoes?

This segregation happens worldwide not just UK. People naturally feel more comfortable with people from similar backgrounds.
Dene Bentley, Leeds

Faith schools should not be allowed to flourish; religion is a private matter. Schools should teach academic subjects and leave 'religious instruction' to parents. Parents can do that by attending church with their children and teaching their children about their faith at home.
Dan, USA

The secret is to educate and communicate with children at a young age. Combat the fear through explanation. When you enter a beautiful garden you don't only see one type of coloured flower. What makes it beautiful is the variation. Maybe after about several more generations the problem will be eradicated, but they must start work on the problem now.
Cheryl, USA

Can this be the same Trevor Phillips who just a few months ago was advocating black children being taught separately? A curious kind of 'integration' indeed.
Bob Sharr, London

More affluent parts of the UK are becoming more integrated
Andy Millward, Broxbourne
On the contrary, more affluent parts of the UK are becoming more integrated than ever before as ethnic minority groups have become more aspirational, and moved away from the so-called ghettos. From my perspective, this is can only help improve mutual understanding and co-operation.
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK

I am white, and went to a school where white kids were in the minority, and many other different races and religions were represented. It was an excellent learning environment, and we were all taught about each others' cultures. On moving away, I was shocked to hear so much racism from people who had never mixed with other cultures or communities. Faith schools (of any faith) should be banned. Schools should be secular and, by encouraging children to mix at an early age, as adults they will be more understanding and accepting of others.
Agnes, Luton, UK

To all those who criticize faith schools: One reason I send my children to a Jewish school is so that they can learn to be proud of their religious identity without fear of the anti-Semitism to which schoolchildren in a Jewish minority were and are subjected.
Henry, Ilford, Essex

It's obvious when you look at the streets that there is a problem. We shouldn't need reports and such like to make us aware of these things, and it shouldn't be a question - it's a fact. There will always be segregation, the issue is what levels are acceptable and work within a well functioning society. A major issue here is financial well being which is linked to peoples place in society's hierarchy. .
Chaz Jai, London

If you are living in Britain legally, then you are British, plain and simple.
Phillip Evans, Wales

Phillip Evans, Wales says: "If you are living in Britain legally then you are British." However, there are many Americans, French, German, Canadians, etc, who are legal residents of Britain yet are not British. What say you about them? In America, we have many British expats living amongst us. They haven't given up their British citizenship. Are they then Americans because they are living in America legally?
Mark, Haverford, Pennsylvania USA

Faith schools do encourage segregation
Gregory, London
Faith schools of all religions teach a 'higher standard of morality', as one poster puts it. However they cannot be compared to state schools which, by their very nature, should not teach religion or morality. Faith schools do encourage segregation by limiting real world exposure of students to people of other backgrounds. People will gravitate toward what is familiar, and when these students graduate they will avoid those who are different - thus creating more self-imposed segregation.
Gregory, London, UK

Let's not fool ourselves here, we aren't all perfect, and we certainly don't live in a perfect world. Racial segregation is a fact of life - it's accepting it that really matters. If we make it into a problem it will become one. I attend a university where there is a healthy mix of race, I treat everyone as I expect them to treat me, after all we are all humans.
Julie Shawyer, By-Forfar, Scotland.

I grew up in Glasgow with faith based segregated schools. You spent every day of the school week largely based with kids of the same faith. That is fundamentally wrong and is part of the sectarian problem that exists in the city of Glasgow, and also Northern Ireland. It is a situation that is heavily supported by the Catholic Church and until changed will not lessen many of the problems we see.
Des Docherty, California

We still think of ourselves as Celts first and British second
Conwyn, Birmingham
My family came from central Europe about 500 BC. We were quite happy until the Romans arrived and after that other peoples but even after 2,500 years we still think of ourselves as Celts first and British second.
Conwyn, Birmingham

I am a black American, and have been living in England for several years now. Despite claims that America is a racist country, I have experienced far more racial discrimination here in England than I ever did back in the states. In fact, I have been physically assaulted twice by white hooligans - something which never, ever happened to me in America.
Tyrone Jackson, American, but living in Manchester

People like to live where there is a common bond such as race, religion and culture. Self-segregation is natural. Fortunately for UK, most people identify themselves as British, while in America we are hyphenated Americans (i.e., Asian-Americans or African Americans). Hyphenated identities hurt a national identity. Just an observation from an American-American
David Cleland, Chicago, Illinois

It is ironic that the head of the Commission for Racial Equality has made such a damaging remark. He should have suggested measures to help integrate British people of different backgrounds - to enable a really multicultural Britain to become reality in a few years.
Faiyaz, Leicester UK

I am a student at a collage in Sussex, and I can honestly say that segregation is real and that I see it every day. Most of the racial minorities at my school just keep themselves to themselves. The black students only really hang around with other black students, whether they are UK born or not, and it's exactly the same with Chinese, Russians and other minorities. It's a real shame.
Lawrence Dawson, Sussex, England

Britain is almost a fully integrated country
Oliver Llewellyn, Bradford
Trevor Phillips is clearly living in his own little bubble, and needs to visit a city such as Bradford. Then he would realise that Britain is almost a fully integrated country. My school is around 55% 'Asian' and so, in theory, we whites are in the minority. But never in five years have I ever witnessed any form of bullying, discrimination and I have certainly never witnessed any form of segregation. I am the only white person in my AS Chemistry class, and it took me a few weeks before I even realised.
Oliver Llewellyn, Bradford, England

I think it is grossly unfair to link Muslim faith schools with issues of integration. Muslim faith schools are open to all faiths - the main difference is that Muslim faith schools teach a higher standard of morality than state schools. Muslims have witnessed the high rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, unmarried teenage pregnancies and general delinquencies which are on the whole absent from Muslim faith schools.
Munir, Guildford

I am sick and tired of being told what I should do and who I should live next to. Mr Philips is like all the rest of the sound bite opportunists such as the politicians; all noise with no solution.
Mark, Tunbridge Wells, UK

I'm English white, my wife is African black and we live in what is supposed to be a hot bed of racial tension (Halifax). We have had no problems. On the contrary we find most people very eager and willing to chat and become friendly as they want to know about my wife's origins, how we met, what our cultural differences are etc. Politicians and the media are the biggest barrier to race relations in this country.
Ade Lenton, West Yorks, England

Racial prejudice is caused by politicians telling people that they must alter their own culture
Isabel Bolstridge, Yorkshire
I spent many years working with people of all colour and nationalities. The problems arose not because of colour or creed of people but down to individual personalities. I worked with ethnic families who had lived in this country for many years and had never shown any desire to integrate or learn the language or culture of others. Racial prejudice is caused by politicians telling people that they must alter their own cultures to accept the cultures of others.
Isabel Bolstridge, Yorkshire

I am a Jewish man living in the part of Leeds which has been scrutinised hugely recently. I have never experienced any trouble recently but I have friends who were racially abused a few years ago. I think the whole country is becoming more tolerant and I know that the vast majority of people are not at all racist.
Carl Dadd, Leeds, UK

I agree with Trevor but think his warning is 10 years too late, we already have ghettos in many parts of Britain.
David Oldroyd, Dallas Moray, Scotland

As a dark skinned Muslim living in an all white neighbourhood I can say that I haven't experienced any negative attitudes. However, when I lived in America I had several hideous insults hurled at me. The UK is not, in my opinion, racist like America.
Hak al Algeri, London

What is all this nonsense about segregation in Britain today, does this man not know he lives in multicultural and vibrant society.
Jason, Carlisle

More faith schools, not less. They teach our children respect and values missing at other state schools. However these faith schools must work with other faiths. Shared work, shared projects. Get the kids from different backgrounds working together, whilst maintaining their individual identities.
Robert Bell, Maidenhead, UK

On the whole, most people are comfortable with their own
Babu, Wigton, England
What is integration? I am of Asian origin but we currently live in Cumbria. On the whole, most people are comfortable with their own - whether it is the same race, same football team etc. I go out to play pool and have some drinks with my English friends every week. I am comfortable in doing that. But is it integration??? The problem I see is that all people are prejudiced about people you do not know much about. So in the first instance, you will be suspicious of other people. About 15 years ago, I met my new English neighbour for the first time. He informed me that I was alright but his father had told him that he did not like Asians. On questioning I found out that his father had not come across many Asians, but he had this view. I do not think you can changes people's views. That depends on how and where they have been brought up. But hopefully, with time, people do make an effort to learn more about other people, or at least question why they have certain views.
Babu, Wigton, England

I agree with Trevor Phillips. Unless ways can be created for different groups to mix more, befriend more and get to know one another the race problem will only get worse. As a society we are learning to acknowledge diversity we need to learn to value and embrace it as well.
Owen, London

From the beginning of time, humans have always settled with the people they feel comfortable with. Whether it has been in tribes or communities. I believe it is more a culture divide than a race divide. However, I would rather live in a segregated nation of peace than a 'melting pot' of hate.
Craig, Salford, England

I have great faith in time diluting prejudice and barriers
Martin, Birmingham, UK
I have great faith in time diluting prejudice and barriers. Who generally makes reference in this country to people from a Polish background, or French Huguenot background, or a Celtic ancestry, for example? Our newer communities (and I do not see that word as divisive, but I see it as having the implication of working and co-operating together and with others) and our older communities will find that distinctions between them will blur and fade. It will take time, perhaps decades, but it will happen.
Martin, Birmingham, UK

No I do not agree with Trevor Philips. I work in our local hospital where we have people of all different colours and creeds working at all different levels from consultant surgeons to hospital cleaners every one is working together at their own level to do their jobs. Of course as anywhere doctors mix mainly with other doctors, nurses with other nurses cleaners with other cleaners.
Robert Loades, Fakenham England

Of course the country is segregated. In Bradford this has always been the case. There are clearly defined territories. Asian territory is inner city and city centre. Neither community wants anything to do with the other. Ask yourself why are all the council estates in Bradford almost exclusively white? It is oil and water. The two do not mix. It is not economic it is cultural.
David Fell, Bradford

I think it's all down to where you live. I live in Preston and live in the middle of a large Asian community, yet I am on speaking terms with all my neighbours and I believe this is because people up north are generally friendlier. Where as if you live down south people are more happy to keep themselves to themselves despite their race or nationality.
Katie, Preston, Lancashire

Trevor Phillips' comments are typical of those for whom the race agenda is the be-all and end- all of everything. And everybody knows it simply isn't. Most people live side by side without thinking about racial politics until bureaucrats like Phillips give racists something to think about.
Gerard Valente, London, England

Maybe after about several more generations the problem will be eradicated but they must start work on the problem now
Peter , Ex. U.K resident
I can only cite my own experience after having lived in London for 40 yrs. I am from Anglo-Indian parentage, my parents having served the British for decades in India.( in the army, etc). I am actually a mixture of around 8 different nationalities so racism is something that I find hard to comprehend, however being of a dark skinned propensity I was subjected to it. My parents should've been the perfect subjects for integration. They and myself were of a Christian faith, Europeanised, spoke fluent English and didn't follow Indian customs however the problem Britain has is purely with colour and not with immigration/segregation.

The secret is to educate and communicate with children at a young age. Combat the fear through explanation. When you enter a beautiful garden you don't only see one type of coloured flower. What makes it beautiful is the variation. Maybe after about several more generations the problem will be eradicated but they must start work on the problem now for the future of the young ones growing up in England.
Peter , Ex. U.K resident

Segregation will always be a part of society. People will always want to live and be with others of similar backgrounds or opinions. Those who seek to make everyone equal are chasing a dream that cannot be realised unless basic human nature is changed. Would Spain class the British ex-pat community as segregated?
Dewi, Manchester

No, I do not think that the country is becoming more racially separated. I think that it is an individual's opinion that makes people decide where they want to live. when buying a house you have to look at things such as which are you like and will you be able to afford the houses in that area.
Balal Hussain, Oldham, England

When I went to school, only one boy was Roman Catholic. The only way we knew that was because he missed the Religion Instruction lessons we all attended. When I joined the Army there was one chap categorised as a Jew. They only way we knew was because he missed the church parade. Seems that we would all be the same if we didn't have to be classified. Let's all start again from the beginning.
Les Woods of Lincoln, Lincoln/England

Since ancient times 'Birds of a feather flock together'. Groups of immigrants tend to live in close proximity for all kinds of reasons. As the British do now in America, Canada, Argentina, Spain, South Africa and so on. You can not force cultures to mix together especially when the majority on all sides don't want to.
Timmie Stewart, Sheffield, UK

I feel that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world
Amit, London
I'm African of Indian origin and I've lived in the UK for 10 years. I haven't had any problems with any communities and I feel that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world. I have white and black friends and family members and I think the best way to integrate is to mix with other cultures and communities. When we come to Britain "we shouldn't think of our community itself but instead integrate and learn from others".
Amit, London

Yes, we are, and it's because when people come here to live, they live with friends, family etc so they end up in the same community. They then often don't attempt to integrate at all. I have a friend whose father moved here 38 years ago from Pakistan, and he still doesn't speak English, doesn't read English, and has no interest in learning. This is where the problem lies.
Andy Wilson, Surrey

Simple solution; get religion out of our schools altogether and ban faith schools. This unprovable nonsense doesn't belong in our classrooms anyway.
Simon Chase, London, UK

A positive start would be to drop the phrase "community" (eg Asian community). All the use of this term does is to define a separation - why not use for example - people from an Asian background - descriptive but not divisive.
Ian Malsbury, West Yorkshire

Trevor Philips claims that schools should fight the segregation culture, but this is the same man, who last year on "Inside Out" which featured White Hart Lane School in London and East St Louis in the USA, claimed that teaching Afro Caribbean boys in separated classes would encourage them to succeed. I think he ought to get his educational philosophy coherent and simply not make noise depending on the sound bite of the month.
Mike McKeaveney, London

Many cultures mix very happily in this country. A smile and a hello go a long way to breaking down barriers between individuals. Faith schools should not be allowed to flourish, religion is a private matter.
Cheryl D, Swindon, UK

I think it is much, much worse in continental Europe
Jean Paul Mogabeamunga, French West African origin, living in Bolton
I recently arrived in England after six years in France. I must say that in France I experienced outright racism, but so far nothing like that in England. I think it is much, much worse in continental Europe.
Jean Paul Mogabeamunga, French West African origin, living in Bolton

I am of Indian origin, and have grown up and lived all my life in Southall - the UK's Punjabi centre. However 90% of my friends are white. It's not difficult to integrate. Segregation is a self-imposed comfort zone which can only lead to negative consequences. The Islamic community needs to follow the lead of the Sikh and Hindu communities, in integrating perfectly into British society and reconciling their ethnic identity with their British identity. It's not hard to do, and more effort needs to be put in this direction.
Anon, London, UK

This country already is segregated, to a large extent, not only based on racial difference either. The divisions are as much to do with class as race. It just happens to be the newest immigrants that find themselves restricted to the poorer parts of the country, based on wealth (or lack of wealth). In Oldham there are no go areas for white people as well as ethnic minorities, a situation that should never have occurred, but yet one in which we today find ourselves.
Nige, Oldham, England

I lived in the UK for 25 years. I moved to the US recently and have seen more racial segregation here in the US in the last 6 months than I have ever seen in the UK. I agree, that we have a certain amount of segregation in the bigger cities in the UK, however here in the US, it seems sometimes we are living "parallel lives".
Emily McAuley, Annapolis, USA

Isolation is the problem
Tony, Derby
I do not think that racial segregation is the problem. Most people do not mix with anyone once they get home. The door is shut and the telly on. Isolation is the problem.
Tony, Derby

I grew up in Oldham and I could have told Trevor Phillips years ago that there was segregation in our cities. Half of the problem is that when these things happen in the North then nobody takes a blind bit of notice and dismisses anybody who comments as "small town white racists".
Gavin, Bristol, UK

I grew up in London in an area where people mix without a second thought. When I moved to Bradford, one day I noticed the school next door had 100% white kids in the playground. This was really strange to me, but even when I mentioned it nobody could see a problem. I don't know what's worse.
Nick Smith, Leeds

Only a few weeks ago we were being told that mixed race relationships are more prevalent in the UK than any other country, and that a high proportion of children born in the UK today are of mixed race origin. This week we're told that we're sleep-walking our way to a segregated society. Which one is it!
Mel, Derbyshire, UK

Although I cannot comment specifically on segregation in the UK, we have the same issues in Canada. The racial segregation in schools is increasing and deliberate. In Toronto, enrolment in private schools has grown over 40% over the past 10 years which corresponds directly with the recent influx of immigrants during the same period. Although most will cite the quality of education for enrolling their child in a private school, the main reason is the fact they are 95% white and middle to upper class. This trend will continue. In my mind, this increasing segregation is not only racially motivated but reflects the fact that our society is polarising between rich and poor.
M. Guenther, Toronto, Canada

We are now seeing racially segregated areas
Catherine, Cardiff
I grew up in Cardiff where we have had an immigrant population for generations. Cardiff was truly an integrated city with multi-racial marriages, schools, communities etc. However, with the mass influx of recent immigrants, I feel that councils have placed them in problem areas of the city. Due to their immigrant status, these have become further financially deprived areas. We are now seeing racially segregated areas and an increase in an "us and them" mentality. This harms everyone in our community; whether immigrant or Cardiff-born, and regardless of race, colour and creed.
Catherine, Cardiff

The problems seem to occur when there are polarisations. Nelson and Burnley for instance - half Muslim Asian, half white. Huddersfield seems to work better because there are so many ethnic groups with no clear majority. Unfortunately though, it is obvious that the Muslim community is the least integrated and, to be honest, most people feel they don't want to. Why are people so scared to state this?
Clare, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

I am not sure that Britain is become "more segregated", so much as having "more immigrants". It is not that people who used to mix with other races have now stopped; it is that hundreds of thousands of new immigrants have arrived, and have flowed into specific "minority" areas. When I pass groups of young people chatting away in foreign languages, I cannot help but think that these are foreign-born immigrants, rather than British-born ethnic minorities. A drastic reduction in the immigrant inflow would quickly reduce the growth of "ghetto-isation". Of course, I doubt that Mr Phillips or his Labour Party comrades will advocate that.
Neil, London

Such problems will never be solved by skin-deep political correctness. There are many factors at work in such a country as UK, but the extensive influence of different types of US culture, to which such way of looking at the world is almost integral, should not be overlooked.
NN, London, UK

Well done Trevor Phillips for bringing this subject to the fore - it's long overdue for public discussion. I too am against faith schools & anything that hinders integration. Let's overrule Tony Blair and his knee-jerk type of governing. Multi-culturalism isn't a success where it leads to racial ghettoes, where people lead lives isolated from the rest of British society. Mr Shafiq's comments are the ones I find alarming, not Mr Phillips'.
Suzanne, Leighton Buzzard

Why is the taxpayer funding this spurious nonsense?
Jitesh Bavisi, London
Why is the taxpayer funding this spurious nonsense? What are we to do, have centrally designated geographical units populated by a representative sample of the national population? Will people be forced to move homes? What happens when the balance changes? Move them again? I think it is time for Mr Philips to get himself a proper job.
Jitesh Bavisi, London

I lived in Lambeth in London for 17 years before moving back up North to Teesside. I have noticed considerable differences in the "mix" between the two areas. In Lambeth the community was very mixed - when my daughter started school white children, like herself, whose first language was English were in a very small minority. This was never a problem as there were so many different cultures and beliefs operating that the school simply embraced them all - no one group was dominant. The parents mixed together too - socially and at work. When I moved back to Teesside I was surprised to see the Asian community and white community so separate - even though we live side by side in the same streets. Some of the younger boys play together - football and cricket - but beyond that there is no real mixing at all.
Anne Hollifield, Stockton, Teesside

If you look back in history this has been going on for centuries. Ethnic immigrants tended to concentrate together in particular areas but then move out to other areas when they become more established and especially wealthy. It is also the case that previous residents have also moved elsewhere to other districts and further from London in much the same way, providing the accommodation for the next wave.
Chris Fribbins, Rochester, Kent

When I had occasion to be working on the renovations of London's tube stations, I had to be in the good and the bad parts of London through the night - the ethnically African and Jamaican engineers and workers said I was mad to walk between the stations in certain areas between midnight and dawn, they stayed clear of them. I was aware there were problem areas but had never encountered no-go areas. So this was modern Britain, what a sad condemnation of multi-cuturalism to find our capital city was on a par with Soweto.
Country Bumkin

The government is rushing headlong into more segregation with its 'faith schools' policy even though Northern Ireland should warn us of the dangers. More segregation (and hence more discrimination) is madness - the government should suspend this policy.
Ian Smith, Bedford, Beds


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific