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HOME OFFICE: PUTTING RACISTS ON THE RUN

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A comprehensive review of how to tackle racial harassment was welcomed today by home office minister Timothy Kirkho...
A comprehensive review of how to tackle racial harassment was welcomed today by home office minister Timothy Kirkhope.

The report highlights the importance of co-operation between the police, local authorities, racial equality councils and the Probation, Crown Prosecution and Prison Services. It was carried out by the Racial Attacks Group which brings together experts from all these fields and the government.

It also gives details of ways in which the issue is being successfully tackled. For example:

-- using civil law, possibly in conjunction with criminal proceedings

-- local authority housing departments using introductory tenancies and tenancy agreements where racial harassment can be grounds for eviction

-- courts recognising that racial motivation is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes

Mr Kirkhope said:

'Violent crime is deplorable. But when it is motivated by racial hatred it strikes at the roots of civil society.

'Racial violence on a serious scale is extremely rare in this country. But racial harassment can blight peoples' daily lives.

'These cases are less obvious and can go unreported. We need to know more about them so they can be tackled or prevented effectively.

'Tackling the menace of racial violence is a task which requires the co-operation of the police and the voluntary and statutory agencies.

'I commend this report to those who will use it in their work as a guide to working in partnership to beat racial intolerance and bigotry.'

Home office research published today into victimisation and racial harassment concludes that racial incidents may not be primarily motivated by racial prejudice.

The research 'Ethnic Minorities: Victimisation and Racial Harassment' says that often a crime may have happened anyway but that the racial element - perhaps in the form of racial abuse - is an aggravating factor.

It also concludes that only a small proportion of ethnic minorities overall are victims of racially motivated crimes or threats and that there is no evidence that the problem is growing.

Mr Kirkhope said:

'The government continues to take the problem of racially motivated crimes seriously and will monitor trends on a regular basis.'

The government introduced a new offence of causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Its proposals to tackle stalking will also help prevent incidents of racial harassment.

The racial incidents figures for 1995/96 were also published today, showing that the police recorded 12,222. This is a three per cent increase on the figure of 11,878, for 1994/95.

Mr Kirkhope added:

'These figures show that the ethnic minorities are more confident about reporting these incidents to the police. They know they will be dealt with professionally.'

-- The report by the Racial Attacks Group is entitled, 'Taking Steps: Multi-agency responses to racial attacks and harassment'. The home office report is entitled, 'Ethnic Minorities: Victimisation and Racial Harassment'

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