Systemic racism persists in England according to a newly published report due to be submitted to the United Nations.
The report, produced by the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank, states that the UK government “stands in clear breach” of numerous articles in the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; a key treaty aimed at eradicating all forms racial discrimination.
It will be submitted as part of the UK government’s obligation to provide evidence to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to ensure adherence to the aforementioned treaty.
The report’s release comes after the severity of England’s racism epidemic was demonstrated once again, with footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho subjected to a torrent of racial abuse after they missed penalties in England’s EURO 2020 defeat to Italy.
It’s publication also follows the UN Special Rapporteur on racism’s condemnation of the growing socio-economic exclusion of black and ethnic minority communities in the UK, urging the government to introduce concrete steps to achieve racial equality “without delay”.
The report provides considerable evidence that, not only are disparities systemic, but they are worsening, sustained across all facets of English society and are enforced by legislation and institutional practices.
In the context of criminal justice, the report states that “BME children make up over half of the child population in prison”, an increase of 15% over the past 10 years.
In housing, it was found that, between 2017 and 2019, 3% of British households had damp in more than one room, with that number rising to 10% for Bangladeshi households and 13% for mixed white and black Caribbean households.
Systemic racial disparities were also found in education; just 14% of teachers were found to be from a BME group and 96% of headteachers a white, adding that students from BME backgrounds are far more likely to be behind at school than their white counterparts.
Dr Halima Begum, Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust, said that “From stop and search to inequalities in maternal health, lower levels of home ownership to constraints on pay and professional opportunities,
…this report provides further evidence that taking a colour blind approach to equality will not be the most effective way to achieve social mobility.”
The report also criticised the government-commissioned race review, published in March, which said the UK “should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries” and that the “system is not deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.” The report called such findings “divisive and dishonest” and said that they “misrepresent the scale and complexity of the issues.”
“The divisive and dishonest Sewell report into race inequality represents the biggest lost opportunity to effectively tackle systemic racism in the UK,” said Lord Simon Woolley, the founder of Operation Black Vote and a prominent racial equality advocate, “This shadow report, in sharp contrast, offers a number of strategic recommendations which together present a sorely needed comprehensive race equality strategy fit for the 21st century.”
In a statement, the Runnymede Trust said that: “The independent report clearly finds that racism is systemic in England and that evidence exists for institutional racism in the disproportionate outcomes which cannot all be explained by geography and class.
We hope the government does not see this as a confrontation but as the basis of a dialogue on racism.”
However, a government spokesman said that significant progress had been made, stating that the report “contains many errors” and is “too simplistic” in explaining the causes of the disparities outlined in the report.
“We would urge them to work with the government and carefully consider the recommendations in the report from the Commission on Race and Ethic Disparities. The government will be providing a response to these recommendations which will act as our action plan for tackling inequality” the spokesman said.
The government must ensure that they are not in breach of their human rights obligations and use the findings of this report to institute actionable measures which improve the situation of racial equality in the UK.