Research published today by the Institute of Race Relations shows that recently arrived migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation and xenophobic attacks.
The new geographies of racism: Peterborough, focuses on a city which has experienced significant population change over the last decade, largely as a result of the expansion of the European Union and the migrant workers who have found employment in the city’s factories and agri-business industries. These same workers have been vilified as overrunning the city in a succession of national media investigations, yet today’s report finds that in fact there has been a range of violent attacks, largely unrecognised, against migrant workers and other BME communities.
Based on interviews carried out within the city, The new geographies of racism: Peterborough, highlights how:
- Exploited migrant workers, forced in the most extreme cases into destitution, have been bullied, harassed and attacked. Yet police and UK Border Agency (UKBA) operations aimed at removing them from the country have led to an unwillingness to report this violence to the authorities.
- Asylum seekers dispersed into the city have been targeted and in the most serious examples forced from their homes.
- Some politicians are accused of exploiting concerns over immigration for political gain.
- Attempts by far-right groups to exploit the murder of a white teenager by Asian men were repelled by local community activists.
Dr Jon Burnett, author of the report, said: ‘The overriding political consensus is capitulating to the idea that migration is undermining the social fabric of the UK. That, combined with an austerity programme which is destroying public services, and the consistent moves to blame migrants for putting overbearing pressure on the same, is likely to lead to a wave of hostilities and attacks. It is places like Peterborough where the implications may well be made clear.’
The new geographies of racism: Peterborough can be downloaded here (pdf file, 384kb)