Ethnic minorities reluctant to report race crimes

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 200,000 black and Asian people suffer racial harassment and attacks each year, but less than half of all race crimes are reported to the police, according to a Government report published yesterday.

About one in seven crimes committed against ethnic minorities were considered by the victims to be racially motivated.

There is no evidence, however, of a significant changes in the overall number of racially motivated crimes, says the Home Office analysis of findings from the 1996 British Crime Survey. The BCS is considered the most accurate study of crime as it is based on victims' reports of all offences and not just those recorded by the police. The new study examines interviews taken in 1995.

Eight per cent of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis considered themselves to be the victim of a racially motivated crime during 1995, as against 5 per cent of Indians and 4 per cent of black people. Risks for white people were less than 0.5 per cent.

Only about 45 per cent of race crimes were reported to the police, with white people - 55 per cent - far more likely to go to the authorities than non whites - 29 per cent.

The report said that the main reason ethnic minorities were likely to become victims of crime was because they were more likely to live in inner cities, many are young, and they tend to be low paid - all high risk crime factors.

The high level of unreporting is believed to be linked to ethnic minorities' distrust of the police. Chief constables yesterday published a new good practice guide on recording race crimes in an attempt to encourage greater reporting.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, said: "Tackling racism is a crucial issue for every force. Building the confidence of all sections of the community is not a side issue - it should be at the centre of all police activity.

"The way forces respond to racial incidents is a key test of whether they are delivering services fairly."