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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 19:42 GMT
Police issued with race guidelines
Chhokar graphic
The advice is in response to the Chhokar case
Scotland's eight police forces have been issued with new guidelines to help them deal with racist crime in the wake of the Surjit Singh Chhokar murder.

The Lord Advocate's guidelines form part of the Crown Office's response to the official reports into the Chhokar case.

The new advice, announced by Solicitor General Elish Angiolini, guides officers on how to assess crimes as racist and deal with suspects, victims and their families.

Mrs Angiolini said the guidelines marked a further step in learning the lessons of the Chhokar case.

Elish Angiolini unveiled the guidelines

No-one was convicted of the murder of Mr Chhokar, a Sikh waiter who died after being confronted by three men in Overtown, Lanarkshire, in November 1998.

All three suspects were acquitted in two separate trials which saw them lay the blame on each other for the killing.

A report by advocate Dr Raj Jandoo into liaisons with the Chhokar family found elements of institutional racism in the procedures both of Strathclyde Police and the prosecution service.

Dr Jandoo's conclusions were later accepted by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd.

The guidelines, issued on Tuesday, concentrate on the need for consideration of a number of factors;

  • the language needs of victims and relatives

  • cultural sensitivities

  • the importance of the religious and cultural needs of relatives where a victim has died.

The advice also covers the reporting of crimes to procurators fiscal, saying: "It is of crucial importance that the prosecutor is advised whether the victim or any other person has perceived an incident to be racist."

Speaking at the General Council Meeting of Tayside Racial Equality Council, Mrs Angiolini said: "We are committed to ensuring that we learn the lessons of the Chhokar case.

Raj Jandoo's report was critical of the police

"While we have made significant improvements already I consider that the guidelines will allow us to more effectively meet the needs of bereaved relatives, victims and witnesses. The guidelines will make a difference."

The advice being issued to forces also takes account of a review report by the Crown Office Race Strategy Group, and the 'Without Prejudice?' report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Chief Constable Andrew Brown, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, welcomed the new guidelines.

He said: "The clarity they bring will help to ensure that people who are involved with the criminal justice system have their language requirements met and their cultural needs respected."

They have also been welcomed by Dharmendra Kanani, head of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland.

She said was very happy that they will be made available to the public, and added: "What we are all aiming for is improved services for all and the guidelines represent a positive contribution to this aim."

The advice is due to be implemented from 1 April this year.

See also:

07 Nov 01 | Scotland
Legal chief defends Chhokar reports
31 Oct 01 | Scotland
Legal chiefs face Chhokar questions
23 Oct 01 | Scotland
Probe into Chhokar report leaks
20 Oct 01 | Scotland
Chhokar family hopes for justice
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