Research published by the Institute of Race Relations shows that the geography of racial violence is changing rapidly in the UK and yet the authorities show little interest in tackling the problem.
Focusing on Stoke-on-Trent, which has been devastated by deindustrialisation, and where the proportion of the city’s Black and Minority Ethnic population has doubled in two decades, The new geographies of racism: Stoke-on-Trent records a series of serious and systematic attacks on the city’s BME communities. According to Jon Burnett, the report’s author it is not a racism which ever claims national attention. It was only when there was a real prospect of the British National Party making significant electoral inroads that Stoke became of interest to the political class.
This report highlights:
- A vicious pattern of attacks has emerged in Stoke which has seen asylum seekers forced from their schools, mosques defaced, Muslims seriously assaulted, workers in cab firms and takeaways attacked and long-standing residents in the city harassed and abused.
- Some victims of racial violence have been so let down by the criminal justice system that they have been forced to turn to self-defence so as to protect themselves and their families.
- The ways in which mainstream politics has shifted to accommodate the messages of extremists and created conditions in which both far-right movements and racial violence could thrive.
Dr Jon Burnett, author of the report, said, ‘The attacks which have taken place in Stoke recently provide the clearest evidence of how moves to accommodate the message of the Far Right in mainstream politics have impacted at a local level. The BNP may have lost all their council seats in 2011, but the conditions for ongoing racial violence remain. Stoke is not an isolate but exemplifies a national trend. We need to take heed and act now on racial violence.’
Notes to editors
1) Dr Jon Burnett is a researcher at the Institute of Race Relations.
2) This is the second of three reports investigating changing patterns of racial violence in the UK. The first of these reports, on the city of Plymouth, can be downloaded here: The new geographies of racism: Plymouth.
3) This work on the UK’s new geographies of racism emerged from a briefing paper, Racial violence: the buried issue, published in 2010.
4) Serious racist attacks in Stoke which have taken place in the last few years have included the hospitalisation of an Indian takeaway worker, in November 2011, after he was attacked with a lump of masonry; an attempt to blow up a mosque; a worker in a Turkish takeaway being cut with a knife, a paving slab thrown through the window of the premises and protection money being demanded by the attackers; a delivery driver forced to hide in his vehicle as youths threw bottles and glass at him; and, on the eve of a march by the English Defence League, taxi firms having to suspend their services, reportedly as a result of death-threats against drivers.
5) Read the IRR’s research, The new geographies of racism: Stoke-on-Trent, here (pdf file, 440kb).
6) For further information call the IRR on 020 7837 0041 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.