Lawyers want register of race-hate criminals

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THE SOCIETY of Black Lawyers yesterday demanded the setting up of a new race-hate register so that racist criminals could be more closely monitored by the police.

In a written submission to the inquiry into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, the society said radical measures were needed to tackle the "institutional racism" that existed throughout the criminal justice system.

Peter Herbert, the society's chairman, said research had shown that racist attacks were rarely spur of the moment incidents and were often carried out by perpetrators from identifiable problem estates or families. He said because there were identifiable patterns, resources could be targeted.

The society wants to see the subject of racism introduced into the national curriculum for primary schools. Mr Herbert said this month had been dedicated "Black History Month" yet only a handful of schools were taking part in the exercise.

The Society of Black Lawyers is organising the first international conference on race-hate crimes, to be held in London in December. The high-profile black American lawyer Johnnie Cochran and the United States deputy attorney general, Eric Holder, will attend along with Stephen Lawrence's parents and their lawyers.

Mr Herbert said the evidence of bad practice which has emerged at the Lawrence inquiry had been received with dismay in the US, where Scotland Yard has legendary status. "The British police and Scotland Yard have a reputation for dogged thoroughness and it is something that has tarnished their international reputation," he said.

The other groups giving evidence yesterday, the last day of this phase of the inquiry, were the Justices' Clerks Society and the anti-racist 1990 Trust. Today, the inquiry team begins a tour of the regions before retiring to produce its report, expected early in the new year.