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Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 09:57 UK
Leader's 'shock' over documentary

Undercover reporter Tamanna Rahman

The leader of Bristol City Council says she was "absolutely shocked at the blatant aggression" shown in a Panorama documentary about Southmead in Bristol.

The documentary featured two Asian reporters who posed as a married couple living on the Bristol estate for two months.

They recorded more than 50 instances of racism and suffered both verbal and physical abuse while living there.

The leader of the council, Barbara Janke, said she did not "believe this is typical behaviour" of the estate.

"It is not a widespread issue in the area - there are people who are just as disgusted by what they saw who live in that area as anyone else.

"I know there is a lot of work going on in Southmead at the moment and I'm sure that this morning there are going to be very high-level meetings to look and assess what is going on.

"To make it out that the whole of Southmead behaves like that would be untrue.

"I spent a lot of time there recently and I know community leaders and the people that live in the area would be absolutely horrified if they thought that."

Residents agree and say the problem is not as widespread as the documentary made out.

A member of Southmead Rugby Club told BBC Bristol: "Obviously there is 9,000 people who live on Southmead estate and that is a minority view of a couple of individuals.

I work in Southmead and there's a lot of good work going on in Southmead by the council, the police, everybody else who is with the youth service.
Batook Pandya, Support Against Racist Incidents

"To be honest it's a disturbing thing to see but probably you would see it on any estate throughout the country let alone Bristol."

Batook Pandya from Support Against Racist Incidents (SARI) said the problem wasn't endemic in Southmead but there has been a rise in the problem.

"I think we've got to look at it in the way: is Southmead a racist area, I would say no.

"Is there more racist attacks in Southmead? At that time, and the number of cases I get, yes.

"We get cases from all over the city [and] they could be anywhere but I think what happened in that particular moment we were getting a lot of cases from Southmead."

Mr Pandya said one troubling aspect of the documentary was seeing young children involved in racist incidents.

"I think for me the worrying thing is at 11, if he is doing this, in another five, six years what is he going to be doing?

"Where is he going to go and who else is he going to target?

"Where is society to put that right? And if we don't do that and for me the worrying thing is I had two reporters who were born in this country who went there and knew what would happen.

"What about the new communities that are coming in who do not know where to go, who would not know where to take the help or what to do with it.

"What would happen to them? It would be a life in hell."

Councillor Janke added that agencies across the city would now have to crack down on the problems identified by Panorama.

"I think as the council we obviously have to look at working with the police because this is criminal behaviour but we also have to look to working with the people in those communities who don't want to see this sort of thing.

Are we doing enough with young people in schools? Are we doing enough in other agencies within the city to tackle this level of prejudice?
Barbara Janke, Bristol City Council

"And, [we need to] look at whether we are giving them enough support to actually get that kind of behaviour under control.

"Better still, tackle it from the beginning: where is it coming from?

"Are we doing enough with young people in schools? Are we doing enough in other agencies within the city to tackle this level of prejudice?"

Tom Giles, the deputy editor of Panorama, said the programme had an impact.

"One Asian resident who rang us last night to say in half an hour we've done more to highlight the problems of racial violence that he feels he's been facing than he's been able to get done in years and years of trying to complain to the authorities.

"In the end, whether this is a minority or a majority this behaviour is completely unacceptable and it's happening in broad daylight repeatedly."

Mr Giles said the problem that the programme highlighted wasn't unique to Southmead.

"This is a pattern of behaviour that could be happening in similar estates up and down the country and it isn't necessarily an issue about Bristol either.

"Bristol, as we said in the programme, if you go to the centre seems a happy multi-racial city - the same as many others up and down the country.

"This is the sort of behaviour that is happening perhaps out of sight and out of mind and that's really what we wanted to highlight."

You can watch Undercover - Hate on the Doorstep on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here .

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19 Oct 09 |  Panorama


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