Criminal offence of racial violence urged

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The Independent Online
RACIAL violence should be made a separate criminal offence, according to a paper issued today by the Commission on Social Justice, sponsored by the Labour Party, writes Terry Kirby.

The paper, Racial Equality: Colour Culture and Justice, also argues that the crime of incitement to religious hatred, currently only an offence in Northern Ireland, should be extended to the rest of the United Kingdom, to complement the existing law on incitement to racial hatred.

Written by Tariq Masood, a senior fellow at the Policy Studies Institute, an independent research group, the report says racial discrimination should be tackled in the wider context of social deprivation. It says the country should go beyond 'colour racism' to tackle the issue of 'cultural racism' which affects wider groups whose customs and practices fall outside the majority white norm.

Although the report says it is 'long overdue' for police and courts to treat racist crimes more seriously, there is little chance of the offence of racial violence being considered by the Government. Last week Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that such crimes were covered by existing legislation.

Racial Equality: Colour Culture and Justice, Institute for Public Policy Research, 30-32 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7RA, pounds 2.95.