Creating a fairer Britain
20 January 2009
Ten years on from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a new Ipsos MORI survey for the Commission shows British people are increasingly at ease with racial diversity but lack faith in our institutions to represent all groups or treat them fairly.
About half (49%) of the general public are optimistic Britain will be a more tolerant society in ten years time. This figure increases for members of ethnic minorities with 58% optimistic about the future.
The survey also shows that there are relatively high levels of social interaction between races. The majority of the general public (70%) is comfortable for their children to choose a partner of a different race or faith.
On the day Obama becomes the USA’s first Black president just over half of the general public in this country (56%) think it is likely Britain will have a Black, Asian or mixed race Prime Minister in the next 10 to 20 years.
But the picture is not wholly positive. Ten years after Sir William Macpherson’s inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence the survey also reveals scepticism about the police and race among ethnic minority groups. When asked to consider the police investigation into Stephen’s murder over half (53%) of ethnic minority groups think there would be similar failings today if the police were to investigate such a crime.
The study also shows that faith and belief may be a more significant source of division in Britain than race today. Three in five (60%) of the general population and two in three (66%) of those in ethnic minority groups think religion is more divisive than race.
Commenting on the survey Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission said:
'This survey reinforces my faith in the basic decency of the British people. At this historic moment, when America has chosen its first black leader, it is heartening to recognise that here in Britain we have a sophisticated sense of our own identity and an appreciation and interest in difference. But we can’t be complacent. The survey points to emerging religious divisions and as we mark a darker moment in our own history, the tenth anniversary of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it is clear the police still have work to do to convince our ethnic minority communities they deserve their trust. I believe the police are sincere about change but they, and other British institutions, need to work harder to keep up with an Obama generation so positive about the future and the diversity of Britain.'
Ben Page, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Public Affairs, said:
'This poll shows Britain is becoming a more racially tolerant society although obviously there are still differences across the population. Generally the picture is one of optimism, and ten years on from Macpherson the fact that we are able to have such a positive debate about race shows how far we have come and how much change there has been.'
For more information contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission Media Office on 02031170255, out of hours 07767272818.
Further findings from the survey include:
A recent report from the Commission, 'Police and Racism, What has been achieved since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report?', commends the police for making considerable progress, particularly in the recruitment of ethnic minority officers and their success in tackling race hate crime. The positive perceptions in this survey are encouraging and may reflect the hard work of the police in this area. The survey shows they have some way to go in winning the hearts and minds of Britain’s Black community in particular. Although we can’t directly make the link, recent figures published by the Commission show that in general the Black community still experience disproportionately high levels of stop and search. This may contribute to the lower levels of trust within the Black community revealed in this survey.
Findings are based on a total of 1,498 interviews, conducted by telephone using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Interviews were conducted by Ipsos MORI between 12 and 14 January 2009.
The questionnaire was approximately 12 minutes in length and contained a series of closed questions (single and multi-code) and demographic questions (the data are weighted to the population profile and to ensure results could be compared between different groups, e.g. Muslims versus the general GB population or males versus females).
In effect, a series of three surveys was conducted using an identical questionnaire:
For the Black African and Caribbeans and Asian surveys, respondents were targeted in those postcode sectors of the country the population of people from BME backgrounds 20% or more.
Data collected were then split, and weighted, and data tables and topline figures were produced as follows:
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourage compliance with the Human Rights Act. It will also give advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.