Racial violence since the death of Stephen Lawrence

Racial violence since the death of Stephen Lawrence

Press Release

Written by: Institute of Race Relations

As the twentieth anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence approaches, the IRR examines racial violence since his death in 1993.

In the twenty years since the death of Stephen Lawrence, we can report that 106 people have lost their lives in (known or suspected) racist attacks – five per year on average, that black people are  twenty-eight times more likely than white to be stopped and searched by the police (using Section 60 powers), that in 2009/10 black people were over three times more likely than white to be arrested, that black and those of mixed ethnicity are over twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, that three quarters of 7-year-old Pakistani and Bangladeshi children are living in poverty compared to one in four whites, and that those classifying themselves as ‘Other Black’ are six times more likely than average to be admitted as mental health inpatients.

Yet as a society we are in denial about racism. Because the 1999 Macpherson report (into Lawrence’s death and subsequent policing), for the first time, acknowledged institutional racism and the Race Relations Amendment Act followed in its wake, politicians regard the issue as over, declare our society ‘post-racial’. But the kind of mechanistic, box-ticking equality measures being implemented leave intact the laws which discriminate, the power of the media in fomenting hatred and – the levels of racial violence.

Worse, multiculturalism itself is now held responsible for racial tension; think-tanks redefine ‘the problem’ in terms of individual attitudes, identity and willingness to belong; and local anti-racist structures are being decimated. Said IRR researcher Dr Jon Burnett, ‘The twenty years since the unprovoked murder of Stephen Lawrence reveals not the end of racism, but the fact that it is deeply entrenched and infinitely adaptable. What we fear is that as austerity measures begin to bite and politicians compete over restricting immigration and benefits, the fall-out will inevitably be an increase in racism.’

Ongoing research by the Institute of Race Relations shows that racial violence does not impact on all communities equally. As racism is shaped by factors such as military intervention abroad and the resort to nativism in social policy as austerity measures bite, its nature changes, as does its manifestation in towns and cities undergoing swift demographic change.  At a time of growing anti-foreigner rhetoric, it is newly arrived migrants, asylum seekers and those identified as visibly or culturally different, who are more likely to be the victims of racial attack. And, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, such attacks are running at the rate of 130,000 per year.


Notes to editors:- [1] The IRR’s research on fatalities in relation to racial violence can be downloaded here. [2] For further information on these statistics, see Stopwatch, Trust for London, Institute of Education and MIND. [3] Read the IRR’s research on ‘new geographies of racism’ here; Racial violence the buried issue here and Racial violence: facing reality here. [4] In 2011/12, there were 47,678 ‘racist incidents’ recorded by the police in England and Wales. There were 35,816 racially motivated hate crimes and 1,621 religiously motivated hate crimes in that same period. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, there were about 130,000 racially motivated offences per year in the years 2009/10 and 2010/11. [5] Dr Jon Burnett is carrying out research into racial violence for the Institute of Race Relations and can be contacted for further comment on 020 7837 0041, 07753 741 129 or at jon@irr.org.uk. [6] Download the listing above here (pdf file, 3.9mb).

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

11 thoughts on “Racial violence since the death of Stephen Lawrence

  1. Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extemist because the state schools
    with monolingual non-Muslim teachers have robbed them of their cultural
    roots and their literature and poetry. They have been in a wrong place and a
    wrong time during their developmental periods. They have been mis-educated
    and de-educated by the British educational system.

    They do not belong to British society because it is a home of institutional
    racism. They do not belong to the Muslim community because the state schools
    have destoyed their native languages by making them anglicised. They are not
    well versed in standard English, therefore, majority of them leave schools
    with low grades. They do not know where they belong. They are unable to sit
    down with their parents and elders to have a fruitfull converstions and
    discussions on any of their social and emotional problems.

    Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual
    Muslim teachers. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or teacher in a
    Muslim school. Even a native Muslim teacher is not a role model for
    bilingual Muslim children. The Muslim community has seen the attitudes of a
    native Muslim teacher in a Muslim school. This is an eye opening for other
    Muslim schools who happily employ native speaking Muslim teachers. It is an
    educational issue. They are not role models for bilingual Muslim teachers.

  2. To I.E:

    To say that the British education system does not meet the needs of minority ethnic groups – be this through neglecting the vague socio-linguistic issues you outlined, or by omitting any meaningful teaching of history from the national curriculum – is a truism. This is no basis for segregating our nation’s youth in accordance with the religious beliefs of their parents, or by their mother tongue for that matter.

    The feature article focuses on racial violence at the turn of the century. In this respect, keeping social and ethnic groups most hit by austerity policies bound to their respective communities is no way to level the playing field. If children who are born into different belief sets and linguistic groups are denied the chance to nurture friendships and build lives with each other in their formative years, then when will they? When they have already grown hateful of the ‘other’ lurking a mere postcode away?

    You refer to multilingual Muslim children who are underserved by the state; a single visit to any school in Walthamstow will validate this. Nonetheless, it is true that most children from minority ethnic groups and minority language groups are underprivileged, lack suitable role models and face socio-cultural exclusion at school. We cannot simply divide their schooling in relation to whichever brand of racism is most pervasive in any given area. If implemented in the rural Midlands we would see Muslim children attending school on their own.

    Rather than bidding for the old separate but equal malarkey, we would better aid our youth by enabling schools to foster a culture of understanding and nonviolence under one roof.

  3. Do police officer’s now attend regular racial discrimination courses? They certainly should as part of their training.

  4. As (from May 2005) an all British family, after my BSc qualified (originally Filipino) wife arrived from the Philippines (after a decade working in a Regional Trial Court) in December 2001 to settle in Mid Wales, we have been shocked to experience so many attacks in a rural environment. The police installed three CCTV cameras in our home for several months(after one particular “criminal damage with intent” attack in July 2004) and we then installed our own home CCTV cameras, already having an intruder alarm system, plus later even cameras fitted in our car (after related vehicle events on the roads in the area).
    We had, since 2008, been telling our “LibDem” Welsh Assembly Member of our concerns and she contacted the Chief Constable recently (after some years ago our “LibDem” MP had written to a previous Chief Constable), the latest response from a local sergeant prompting my comment “Better to know the police…”, but in 2008 I had advised the Assembly Member that there is a lot worth fighting for in the area and, credit where due, I had thanked the previous sergeant via the newly appointed “Police Commissioner” earlier this year for his 2011 actions in preventing school children assembling at our driveway entrance to harass my sons, on one occasion in 2010 after a shouted “We will attack your house and family”; the Police Commissioner has commenced his inquiries into our experiences.
    However, it had been the “Rice Cooker” comment aimed at our elder son when aged 3 years after his first organised group swimming lesson outside the nearby Leisure Centre, the “pencil stabbing” when aged 8 years in the first year at his changed school after being attacked by three boys at the original school and one such attacker having previously threatened our younger son (via our elder son) would be “punched to the ground” if he had started at such “designated” school plus attacks when on the, provided by local authority’s contractors, “school” buses on both sons that make us “realise” that such events just “come with the territory”.
    We appreciated the “Unite Against Racism” talk, recently allowed at the school for the elder son’s age range, by the seemingly excellent female presenter, and the related “poster competition” for such students organised by the Unite Trade Union, leaving me wondering whether possibly such bodies could “provide” membership (without related employment for example even if retired) for people willing/able to pay to secure benefits such as relevant Legal Expenses cover, as the detailed considered response of a leading legal expenses risk insurer has been to advise that, as such attacks will continue, my sons should commence related legal actions when 18 years of age – presumably assuming they continue to survive the attacks!
    We know that nobody can make everyone like each other, but having seen racism in countries as far apart as the UK and New Zealand by 1975, at now almost 64 years of age, I am not expecting any “quick fix” for the problems that seem set to increase for the often quoted reasons.
    Graham Riches, Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (since 1979)

  5. Yes in terms of people of coulour standing
    injured by a night bus stop not that much has changed . In terms of the more idotic islam o phobia .. it is a two way street ..we need to care fully spread Amb sivas message that culture cant alwyas live in mono or duo lithic isolation.
    I have worked with W A S P s, in Ibiza who are proud not to speak even a dozen words of castellano Spanish let alone the proper La Islas
    Baleares lino /dialect of Catal – yuna !!!!after 30 yrs local residen cia!!
    So they are not goin to speak three words of Tamil/ sin hala or more often bagla in curry house which they go to after Tory/BNP/ E d L mtg thingy …peace upon you and yours etc xx R

  6. We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools have reached their highest levels since record begin.

    People are people, regardless of where they were born, what colour their skin is, or whatever religion. All deserve respect. Tolerance in Sweden/Britain is an illusion. The problem isn’t immigrants not adapting to British culture, it’s Brits showing much disrespect and scorn to those who are of any immigrant background. even if an immigrant was well versed in English, knew the customs etc. would they still get employment? No. Would Brits treat them as a decent human? No. So why would they want to assimilate into a culture that is constantly tearing them down? Multiculturalism is not about integration but about cultural plurality. It is not about separation but about respect and the deepening awareness of Unity in Diversity. Each culture will maintain its own intrinsic value and at the same time would be expected to contribute to the benefit of the whole society.

    A vast majority of people in this world just want to live their lives with their families and friends, and don’t give a hoot about what other people do, as long as they can go on with their families and friends. I find it almost impossible to believe that most Muslims want to kill people who don’t share their views. The matter at hand is how to change the mind-set of people so a higher percentage does not turn to violence. One should not lump all individuals of any particular Faith in with the violent actions of a few misguided individuals who USE Religion to justify their violent actions. Every now and then a Muslim kills in the US and some people jump on ALL Muslims, as though WHITES, CHRISTIANS or otherwise, do not kill. They forget that non-Muslim killing far outnumbers Muslim killing in the US. They call for the expulsion of Muslims. The BEST SOLUTION would be for all FOREIGNERS to go back to their roots and return the country to the original AMERICAN NATIVES. Is this not a FAIR PROPOSAL? LOL! You white Christians have destroyed the Native Americans and it is only fair and right that YOU be destroyed by other communities.

  7. @Iftikhar. You made some good points my friend, and as a white W/class practising Christian, I can understand your anger and thank you for being honest; if we are all honest we might indeed get to some truth; agreed?

    You wrote: ‘The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice.’ Yes, there are many white people who are prejudiced against Asian people and Muslims too, but it could also be said that some Muslims and Asians are equally prejudiced against white people and culture. But there are many white people like myself who truly want to live in peace with Muslims and any ethnic minority too. I believe in mutual respect, because respect for others is also respect for self. I, no doubt like you, want to raise a family, prosper, get on, be allowed to practise my faith and wish only for the same for others, provided they abide by basic laws.

    You wrote: ‘People are people, regardless of where they were born, what colour their skin is, or whatever religion. All deserve respect.’ Now if we all remembered that, and began to practise it everyday, there would be far less trouble and far less so-called misunderstandings between people. I have had black friends, white friends, Asian friends, atheist friends, Chinese friends and never had any real fundamental problems with any of them. If I can do it, why can’t everyone else?

    You wrote: ‘A vast majority of people in this world just want to live their lives with their families and friends, and don’t give a hoot about what other people do, as long as they can go on with their families and friends.’ Agreed. Isn’t that virtually everyone on the planet though? We all want to get on and not be persecuted. We have to understand that we have ONE planet, we have to share it, and we either live in relative peace, or we gravitate towards misunderstanding, then hate, then conflict and war. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids growing up in a world like that, I really don’t. I may not believe in Islam being a Christian, but surely I can respect you and you’re right to be a Muslim; isn’t that a start?

  8. Racism is in the Uk’s soul, its part of its DNA.Racism is as British as a cup of tea. The only way it can be eradicated if Russia nukes this country and it slips back into the sea. Nothing will ever change it , racism will always be there,lurking in the shadows however equal this country gets. The uk is a evil and has had more far right groups, passed and present than any other, maybe the US and Germany might count too.

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