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 You are in: Analysis
Disturbing findings on justice
More findings from the BBC News Online race survey

By David Cowling
BBC political research editor


The second part of the BBC News Online survey into race and Britain reveals some disturbing findings in probing confidence in the British judicial system.

A question released last week found that six out of ten black or Asian respondents had been subjected to verbal racial abuse and one in five had suffered physical racial abuse.

The police and judiciary are two of the most powerful and yet many British citizens from ethnic communities believe both treat them disadvantageously.
Click here for the full survey
Such experiences may have played a part in influencing their attitudes towards the police and the justice system, revealed in this survey.

At one level the survey gives a positive message.

When asked whether the police generally do a good or bad job, seven out of ten blacks and Asians consider they do a good job.

But this positive endorsement carries with it some very serious concerns.

Different opinions

Compared with one third of Whites, about half of black and Asian respondents think the police discriminate on grounds of race.

When it comes to equal treatment under the law, 51% of blacks and 46% of Asians believe ethnic minorities are likely to be mistreated.

About one in three blacks and Asians say that at some time they have been made to feel a criminal simply because of the colour of their skin.

And in terms of fair treatment by the police, whereas almost half of Asian respondents think the police treat them fairly (32% thought their treatment unfair) among blacks there was a much more divided opinion - 39% thought their treatment fair, compared with 37% who thought treatment by the police was unfair.

More than one-third of respondents from ethnic communities claim the criminal justice system is biased against them.

Compared with 10% of White respondents, one in five blacks and Asians thought they would not get a fair trial if facing a criminal charge in court.

Half of all ethnic respondents said they would be concerned about the racial make-up of a jury if they were on trial whereas this would concern 25% of Whites.

Top jobs - glass ceiling?

Another important question provides food for thought on how Britain's ethnic minorities see the ability of people from their background to reach the highest offices in the land.

The survey identified eight senior positions in public life and asked if any would ever be held by someone from a black or Asian background.

In every case, white respondents thought such a prospect more likely than either blacks or Asians.

Overall, twice as many respondents (46%) thought it possible that a future Labour leader would be black or Asian than thought this might be the case for a Conservative party leader (21%).

It was also thought more likely that we would have a Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (42%) from the ethnic community than a future Director General of the BBC (33%).

On discrimination on sexual as well as racial grounds, when asked if women from ethnic communities face more discrimination in Britain compared to men, 37% of the total sample agreed. But among Asian respondents that number rose to 45%.

Once again this major survey reveals significant concerns among blacks and Asians in Britain about equality of treatment.

The police and judiciary are two of the most powerful institutions of any state and yet many British citizens from ethnic communities believe both treat them disadvantageously.

No wonder over 80% of ethnic respondents want to see more black and Asian police.

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