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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Race poll reaction

BBC News Online asked the Home Office, the Police Federation, the Metropolitan Police and the Commission for Racial Equality to comment on the findings of our ICM poll on race relations.

These are their responses.



Home Office statement

We acknowledge that racism and discrimination continue to exist and have done a great deal to address it. We know, however, that there remains a great deal to be done.

The Home Office citizenship survey interviewed 10,015 people nationally and was supplemented with a boost sample of 5,460 people from minority ethnic backgrounds.


We have taken positive steps to implement the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

The survey asks questions regarding peoples' perceptions of the treatment they would receive from a range of public services in comparison to people of other races.

The results of the survey will be published shortly, and will inform Home Office policy development and provide a baseline with which to measure the effectiveness of our efforts to promote race equality.

Recent changes to the Race Relations Act 1976 were introduced by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the first significant piece of race legislation in a generation and a direct response to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report.

Changes

The amendments widened and strengthened the anti-discrimination provisions within the act.


The training will increase knowledge, and improve the awareness and sensitivities of officers

These changes give members of the public greater protection from unlawful race discrimination.

The act also introduced a new and enforceable duty on 40,000 public bodies to promote race equality and good race relations, that is to take action to prevent acts of unlawful race discrimination.

In 1999, in response to a recommendation in the Macpherson report, the Home Secretary set targets for recruitment, retention and progression of minority ethnic staff and officers in all Home Office agencies and service areas, including the police and prison services.

The targets, due to be met by 2009, require the Home Office and its services to achieve proportional representation of minority ethnic staff in all grades and equal rates of staff turnover.

Discrimination

We are still concerned that one in three people believe that police officers discriminate on grounds of race.

We have taken positive steps to implement the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and 80% of the recommendations are now in place.

We believe that bringing the police under the jurisdiction of the new Race Relations (Amendment) Act, combined with the other recommendations, is having an impact on the actions of the police, and leading to changes in how they are viewed.

In particular the delivery of community and race relations training (CRR) has been extensive.

The aim is that all-senior manager and frontline staff will have received training by the end of 2002.

The training will increase knowledge, and improve the awareness and sensitivities of officers, promote best practice in policies and procedures, and improve performance in this area.


Gurbux Singh, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality

I would like to commend the BBC for carrying out this survey. The latest findings provide a valuable insight into the British public's attitudes towards race in three key areas of public life.


It is vital that police officers treat every one with professionalism and courtesy, regardless of the colour of their skin

"In the past, the police, courts and political parties have all been tarred with the brush of racial discrimination.

"These results show that although some progress is being made to root out discriminatory practices and offer equal opportunity to all, there is still a long way to go to improve both perception and reality.

"Following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, when the police were accused of institutional racism, the force came under increased scrutiny regarding racial equality.

"They have since worked hard to improve their service to ethnic minority communities. It is therefore encouraging to see that the ICM poll found that more than 70% of blacks and Asians feel that the police do either a very good or a quite a good job.

"Hopefully this increased confidence will translate into a sustained rise in the number of police recruits from ethnic minority backgrounds.

"However, the survey also shows that public confidence in the police is still disturbingly low with 37% believing that police officers discriminate on the grounds of race.

'Deeply worrying'

"Whether or not this is based on old evidence, it is clear that the police still have much work to do before they gain the trust and confidence of all sections of the community.


It is hardly surprising that so many people feel that we will never see a black or Asian face leading one of the two main political parties

"The fact that approximately one in three black and Asian respondents feel that the police have made them feel like a criminal because of the colour of their skin is deeply worrying.

"It is vital that police officers treat every one with professionalism and courtesy, regardless of the colour of their skin. Anything less is unacceptable.

"The same goes for the judicial system. Both the police service and the courts now have a duty to promote racial equality under the amended Race Relations Act.

"For the first time, they not only have to eliminate unlawful discrimination within their ranks, but actively promote equal opportunity and good race relations as well.

'Hardly surprising'

"This marks a major watershed for race relations which will no doubt improve the lives and life chances of millions.

Gurbux Singh: Police have much to do
"With regard to politics, it is hardly surprising that so many people feel that we will never see a black or Asian face leading one of the two main political parties.

"When you consider that there are only 12 out of 659 black or Asian MPs sitting in the House of Commons, the prospect of a Tory or Labour party leader from an ethnic minority background seems a long way off.

"The three main political parties have all publicly stated their desire to attract more ethnic minority candidates.

"They have set themselves a large, but not impossible, challenge. Only time will tell if the political parties' rhetoric becomes reality.


Fred Broughton, Chairman of the Police Federation

Since perceptions and reality are not always one and the same, we would be interested to know whether the results were based on people's personal experience of the police or second hand/media reports.

"Following the Macpherson Report, the police service has made strenuous efforts to improve race and community relations by improving individual conduct through training and working in partnership with minority ethnic communities.


Commander Cressida Dick, head of Metropolitan Police Diversity Directorate

Improving the confidence of minority ethnic communities in policing continues to be a high priority for the Metropolitan Police Service, and our relationships have improved significantly in recent years.

"We welcome all research which helps us to evaluate the progress of our Diversity Strategy, which includes measures to redress both the perceptions and possibilities of discrimination.

"Constant feedback and assistance from the Met's Independent Advisory Group and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender) Advisory Group means that all areas of the organisations' work are continually assessed by representatives of minority communities.

"We have come a long way and continue to strive to improve our service to all of London's diverse communities.

"We hope similar research will continue to support our work in this area.

Race UK
BBC News Online examines race in modern Britain
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Concern over 'police discrimination'
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Analysis
What the survey reveals
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Background
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Race equality chief Gurbux Singh
Global forum
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What makes you British?
Is Britain racist?
Are the police prejudiced?
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See also:

27 May 02 | UK Politics
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