Standing up against race hate

by David Isaac

Published: 13 Jul 2016

There is growing evidence that we are experiencing a deeply troubling spike in racism and race hate following the recent referendum.

Sadiq Khan has spoken about how a new generation of Londoners are hearing terms of racist abuse for the first time.

David Cameron has also pledged to deliver a new action plan to tackle the issue.

The latest figures from the police reveal that more than 3,000 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police across the UK in the second half of June - a jump of 42% compared to last year.

It is important of course that nobody suggests that just because someone voted Leave they are xenophobic or racist.

It is the case, however, that a minority of racists are using the result of the referendum to legitimise hate and racism and to spread this corrosive poison more widely in our society. We must stand together and strain every sinew to resist it.

The Commission is absolutely committed to playing its part.

We can announce today that we are launching a new initiative with a coalition of business organisations, to call on employers to show leadership in challenging intolerance and to ensure their employees who may be experiencing racism in the workplace feel supported.

Our joint campaign, supported by organisations including the TUC, FSB and CBI, will provide advice on employees’ rights in and outside work, and give important information about where people can go for help, including how to report race hate incidents.

It’s about us and the business community working together to show leadership in a zero tolerance approach to racism and to highlight the important role employers can play in providing support.

This follows our work in recent days working with foreign embassies to provide information to migrants on how they can get help and exercise their rights.

In addition to this, the Commission has publicly called for a full-scale review of Britain’s hate crime strategy and a new national drive to defeat the dramatic rise in race hate crime. In a major report to the UN on racial discrimination (PDF), we make a series of recommendations to the UK government to tackle hate crime and lead a national effort to defeat those who are trying to use the Brexit vote to legitimise and spread hate.

The report calls on the UK government to:

  • Carry out a full-scale review of the operation and effectiveness of the sentencing for hate crimes in England and Wales, including the ability to increase sentencing for crimes motivated by hate.
  • Provide stronger evidence to prove their hate crime strategies are working.
  • Work with criminal justice agencies to understand what drives perpetrators to commit hate crime and to use that evidence to develop new preventative measures.

As well as being more likely to be a victim of hate crime, the Commission’s assessment highlights how people from minority ethnic communities and migrants are much more likely to experience disadvantage in the criminal justice system.

We can see from incidents in the US, including Dallas and Louisiana, what happens to community cohesion if inequality in the justice system isn’t tackled. We are at risk of the same social division and community tensions if this isn’t tackled as a priority by the UK government.

We need to do more to defeat the racists and ensure greater fairness in our criminal justice institutions, so that everyone is treated equally no matter what their colour or background.

Our report to the UN shows that a black man is still five times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than a white man in England and Wales. Dorset had the highest disproportionality, with black people being 12.7 times more likely to be stopped than white people.

In addition, race discrimination cases have dropped by 61% since the introduction of fees in employment tribunals.

It is therefore vital that the government not only redoubles its efforts to tackle hate crime as a national priority but also puts in place a more coherent and concerted effort to tackle race inequality.