Councils have been guilty of perpetuating community division in a “misguided but wellmeaning” bid to respect cultural differences, a review of integration by Dame Louise Casey has found.
In a report published today, Dame Louise said there were numerous examples of public bodies including councils turning ”a blind eye to practices that…are denying individuals – and all too often children and women – their basic rights.”
She said some local political leaders ignored “difficult issues” as they were “focusing on what they think their communities want to hear, rather than what they believe is right, for fear of losing the support of a particular community”.
“Those who do this are not necessarily helping the communities they seek to protect and, in some cases, have brought them into disrepute and greater risk of harm,” Dame Louise added.
She called for new “oath of integration” which enshrined “British values” for all holders of public office.
The Casey Review - a review into opportunity and integration, commissioned by former prime minister David Cameron last year, found ethnic segregation was growing in some areas, with some women suffering “huge inequalities”.
In a series of recommendations Dame Louise said councils should regularly collect information that could indicate a breakdown in social cohesion, which could include incidents of hate crime.
She said central and local government should also work together to create guidance on approaches that had proved successful at tackling a breakdown inn cohesion in the past.
Dame Louise also said it was “extremely concerning” that some children are taken out of mainstream education without sufficient checks on their safety and wellbeing.
She said all children outside mainstream schools should be have to be registered with councils and their duties to know where children are being educated increased.
The report also calls for extra resources for Ofsted and the Charity Commission to support additional council action on safeguarding in all education environments.
“While every parent has the right to choose what is best for their child, local authorities must be satisfied that children are not put at risk,” she added.
Dame Louise called on central government to support a new community cohesion programme which should support area-based plans aimed at addressing issues such as the promotion of the English language and the emancipation of marginalised groups of women.
In conclusion Dame Louise said: “We need more effort to be put into integration policies to help communities cope with the pace and scale of immigration and population change in recent years.
“But we also need more of a spirit of unity, compassion and kindness that brings people together under our common British values of tolerance, democracy, equality and respect.”
The review involved Dame Louise meeting 800 people, including public servants, religious representatives, teachers, pupils and local leaders.
The review also took account of more than 200 submissions from think tanks, community groups, academics and others.