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Towns and villages 'seeing rise in racial crime'

Racial violence is moving from the inner cities of Britain to its towns and villages, a report warned today.

Researchers said a map of attacks fuelled by hate and bigotry shows a dramatic change in just one generation.

Once notorious flashpoints, many in London, are now more "at ease" with diversity, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said.

But other areas, which have begun to see a changing population more recently, are seeing a rise in racial violence.

The IRR said the changing picture is the result of asylum seekers, migrant workers, overseas students and the movement of settled ethnic minority families.

The report authors analysed 660 attacks with a racial element across Britain last year.

They wrote: "What has emerged is that the map of violence has changed quite dramatically since studies were first done of such violence in the 1970s.

"It is no longer poor deprived areas of London such as Southall, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham, which witnessed many of the racial attacks and racist murders a generation or two ago, that are now so prone to serious attacks.

"Not only are black and ethnic minority communities now more established there but also a whole history of struggle against racism has strengthened these communities."

They added: "But what was significant was that ethnic minorities in a whole host of cities, towns and areas, not traditionally associated with such violence, now appear to be experiencing it.

"These are areas which have traditionally been very white and are not affluent. In some cases core industries have gone and a whole generation of young people are without a future."

The IRR report, Racial violence: the buried issue, criticised mainstream political parties for apparently competing over who can reduce immigration the quickest.

The authors said black, minority ethnic groups, asylum-seekers and migrant communities are bearing the brunt of these tensions.

They found asylum seekers, newly-arrived migrant workers and people who look Muslim are most at risk of attack.

Trades that isolate individuals such as cab driving, serving in takeaways and staffing small shops were found to be the most dangerous.