Colour Bias 'Must Be Made a Crime'; Race Report Risks a Row

Article excerpt


LAWS making racial discrimination a criminal offence were demanded yesterday in an official survey analysing where Britain's ethnic minorities live.

The call came in a report from the Office for National Statistics, which also urged the creation of all-embracing race codes for schools and the jobs and housing market.

Its demands, which would mean the police and courts enforcing the new laws, risk plunging the officially non-political ONS into controversy.

The ONS - formerly the Central Statistical Office - attached the suggestions to an analysis of race questions asked for the first time in the national census five years ago.

Its report, Ethnicity in the 1991 Census, was written by a sociologist and race expert and showed increasing social and geographic mobility among British-born generations of ethnic origin.

It also found that Britain has none of the racially-concentrated ghettoes which disfigure American cities.

But Warwick University sociologist Peter Ratcliffe, who was chosen by the ONS to be the report's editor, said the evidence meant the Government must now introduce sweeping new `ethnicity-sensitive' policies to eradicate segregation and racism.

He wrote: `For material disadvantage to be adequately addressed, some of the concerns of the Commission for Racial Equality would need to be met.

`Specifically, greater power involving the strengthening of existing anti-discrimination legislation and a greater commitment to making codes of practice in housing, employment and education effective or even mandatory.'

Mr Ratcliffe also suggested that discrimination be made a crime, as opposed to a civil matter handled in tribunals or civil courts.

The next census, in 2001, should ask detailed race questions `as part of the push towards bringing the `One Nation' concept towards fruition,' he added. …