Monday, September 26, 2005

Misreporting racial crime in London

The media continue to misreport the phenomenon of racially motivated crime. One of the most spectacular recent examples was a two-page report in London’s Evening Standard of 23 November 2004 [Minorities face 36 race crimes a day]. It made the damaging mistake of claiming that London’s ethnic minorities were the sole victims of the race crime recorded by the Metropolitan Police.

The newspaper had considered Metropolitan Police figures recording some 13,116 racial crimes in the previous 12 months. This number did indeed, if crudely divided by 365, work out at 36 incidents a day. The Met figures however, gave no indication of the racial identity of either the victims or the perpetrators.

The Evening Standard simply assumed that all the victims were ethnic minorities.

The facts were available to interpret this police data. In March of 2004 the Metropolitan Police provided Liberty and Law Journal with a breakdown of racist notifiable crime for the financial year 2002/2003, The total racial offences for that period were 13,721. The clear up rate was 23.3%. Victims were recorded as: Indian/Pakistani 33.6%, White 28.9%, African/Caribbean 28.4%, Chinese/Japanese 1.5%, Arabic/Egyptian 2.9% and Not Known 4.7%.

These may still be the most up to date figures publicly available.

Of the suspects 68.5% were White, 16.3% African/Caribbean, 9.6% Indian/Pakistani, 0.5% Chinese/Japanese, Arabic/Egyptian 1.3%, Not Known 3.8%.

In the absence of any more recent information it would have been reasonable for the Evening Standard to apply these percentages to the 13,116 recorded by the Met during the year to November 2004. Readers would then have learned that the propensity for racial violence appeared to be no greater among white people in the capital than among ethnic minorities.

For many years commentators, misled by Commission for Racial Equality and BBC publications, have not understood the dynamic of our multi racial society and so have simply assumed that only whites can be guilty of racial aggression. This has been damaging for race relations and has played into the hands of groups like the BNP and the National Front who have claimed with some justification that the media censors racial attacks against whites.

We should understand that relatively small numbers of bad people of all races attack people because of the colour of their skin. The vast majority of people of whatever colour are sick of them and want them caught and severely punished. We rub along pretty well in London, perhaps better than anywhere else in the world.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Race watchdog’s race hate reporting code could be ready soon

Following his decision to report Robert Kilroy Silk to the police for a potential breach of the Public Order Act, Commission for Racial Equality chair Trevor Phillips followed this up with a wider ranging initiative.

On 27 January 2004 he press released his intention to draw up a code of conduct for referring material to the police under the incitement to racial hatred provisions of the Public Order Act.

On 1 September 2005 the CRE was able to reveal progress made on this code exclusively to Liberty and Law Journal in answer to its 16 August query following the return from vacation of a key CRE staffer. A spokesperson explained that the “document has been drafted and is currently awaiting approval” although perhaps disappointingly no date for this approval is yet available.

In announcing the scheme just nineteen months earlier CRE Chair Trevor Phillips, said: “I think that the public has every right to expect consistency and transparency in the exercise of my judgement in these matters. I am therefore taking three steps to ensure that my conduct is clear, and that my powers are exercised fairly.First have asked the distinguished lawyer Robin Allen QC to review the way in which the Chair of the CRE intervenes in such cases and to advise me on my legal responsibilities. Second, on receiving Mr Allen's opinion the Commission will draw up a code for my own conduct in these matters, after consultation with our colleagues at the Press Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General. Third, I will publish that code, so that everyone who chooses can be guided as to why we at the Commission do what we do.”

CRE plans new code of conduct for referring race hate material to the police