Monday, April 26, 2004

Hatterjee gets it badly wrong over police turbans

In a counter productive contribution to the challenge of getting a more racially representative Metropolitan Police Service [MPS] [The Guardian, Fast track to a better police force, 19 April] [Lord] Roy Hattersley asks, using the conjunction ‘but’ to indicate his dissatisfaction with the MPS: “But will Sikh officers be allowed to wear turbans rather than helmets as their forefathers were in two world wars?”

The implication of his question is clear. Sikhs had served and died in two world wars to defend Britain and yet in London the Metropolitan Police did not allow them to wear this cultural symbol.

His question is, of course, redundant. Had he read the Guardian some three years ago [Met lets Muslim policewomen don headscarves, 25 April 2001] he would have read of the initiative Protect and Respect and that turbans for Sikh officers were already in use. Presumably until 19 April he did not consider it a serious enough matter to take up with the MPS on behalf of Sikh officers.

Hattersley had dashed off his article in response to a report that the MPS wanted to fast track the appointment of Visible Ethnic Minorities [VEMs] to the Met and that they were going to seek the support of the Commission for Racial Equality to change the law to make such positive discrimination lawful. Hattersley backs this. No doubt one of the reasons was his belief that Sikhs could not wear turbans. What else does he believe one wonders with concern.

The Guardian has a Readers' Editor and it encourages people to write in where they have spotted errors and those that are deemed significant are corrected wherever possible. It is a good system that reflects well on the paper. On 26 April the Readers' Editor stated that noone else had contacted them to correct Hattersley's error. This means that the Commission for Racial Equality, the MPS, the Metropolitan Police Authority, and none of the VEM MPS groups had attempted to get a correction published. And it would appear that not a single Guardian reader other than me either knew or cared enough to try to set the record straight. All I can say is blimey!

Postscript: The Guardian published the following correction on 30 April: "We asked the following question in a column on affirmative action: "... will Sikh officers [in the Metropolitan police] be allowed to wear turbans rather than helmets as their forefathers were in two world wars?" (Just whose country is it anyway? page 16, April 19). Sikh policemen in London have been wearing turbans since 1970."

It was generous of them to take collective responsibility for the mistake.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Press Release

Tuesday 13 April 2004 immediate

Arnolfini asked to drop colour bar recruitment scheme

Bristol leading art institution Arnolfini’s controversial scheme to exclude white candidates from the prestigious position of Curatorial Fellow has been challenged by civil liberties pressure group Liberty and Law.

Director Gerald Hartup has written to Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips urging him to ask Arnolfini to freeze the recruitment process while his legal department investigates the legality of the gallery’s action and its impact on good race relations. Mr Hartup has also made a direct request to Arnolfini to freeze the recruitment process to allow it to think again about its duty to be an equal opportunities employer and to take into consideration the opinions of the community.

The gallery’s recruitment policy makes use of the provisions of the 1976 Race Relations Act that allowed the use of a colour bar to address under-representation of racial minorities in any particular employment area by allowing employers to make special training facilities available to them to compete for such employment.

Liberty and Law claims that restricting the post to African, Asian and Caribbean curators is not justified under Section 37 because the post is clearly not a training post but a substantive one as its job description and salary grade [Grade 5 £18,889 - £21,408] make clear. The 20-point outline job description/duties of the Fellow are substantial and fully justify the demanding person specification for the job. It argues that far from being a training position it is the sort of job for which any ambitious curator would give his or her eyeteeth.

Gerald Hartup commented: “ I hope very much that Arnolfini think again about this appointment. They appear to be extending the scope of Section 37 in a very dangerous way by justifying it on the grounds of career development. If this post of Curatorial Fellow falls within the legitimate ambit of Section 37 because of this justification then a principle of racial favouritism has been established that was surely never the intention of Parliament. I am concerned not only with the law but the race relations implications of Section 37. Racist groups like the BNP thrive on its use. Anti-racists need it like a hole in the head."

Working with the Commission for Racial Equality in 1994 Mr Hartup successfully prevented the BBC from implementing a similar Section 37 scheme to recruit a Senior Radio Producer and a Television Producer that the Corporation had claimed were traineeships.


Details of the job can be found on Arnolfini’s website at

Further information: Gerald Hartup tel: 020 7928 7325 tel/Fax: 020 7207 3425

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Race hate crimes reach record levels -
but the Crown Prosecution Service don't even know who's responsible

The Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] report that racially motivated crimes dealt with by them have risen 12.4 % last year and that they prosecuted 3,116 defendants - up 442 in a year. The information is contained in their Racist Incident Monitoring Scheme Annual Report 2002-2003 and is the fourth of these reports produced under the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. In none of the reports does the CPS provide data on the racial profile of victims or perpetrators because they do not keep such records.

Asked by civil rights group Liberty and Law for information about the racial identity of perpretrators for current and past years, CPS explained on 31 March that it "does not have a database which collates the racial identity of defendants prosecuted for racially aggravated crime".

Even the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE] has expressed some veiled criticism of the inadequate statistical report. Responding to the CPS report in a press release of 6 April it said:"In future, we would like to see disaggregated data to enable us to ascertain the exact ethnicity of victims of racially and religiously motivated crime. For example, we currently have no knowledge of how many racist incidents are being committed against the Gypsy and traveller communities, refugees and asylum-seekers."

Gerald Hartup commented: "It is amazing that the CPS does not provide this information and that the CRE and Home Office have not pressed them to do so. My criticism of the CPS is much wider than that of the CRE who seem unconcerned to discover the racial identity of perpetrators. I have today formally asked CPS to provide a breakdown of the racial identity of pepetrators and victims and am seeking the support of the CRE to ensure that the CPS agrees to do this promptly. It only requires a few hours of a clerical officer's time. It doesn't need Mr Macdonald, QC to do it himself. We need to know who does what to whom and where and how this is changing over time to develop an effective strategy to defeat the scourge of racially motivated crime.The CPS has let us down badly. They, the CRE and the Home Office, need to get their act together if they are to be part of the solution rather than just getting in the way of one."