Pakistanis are eight times more likely to be victim of a racist attack than whites

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The Independent Online

On average, a Pakistani is more than eight times as likely to be the victim of a racist attack in Britain as someone who falls under the wide-ranging ethnic category of "white".

On average, a Pakistani is more than eight times as likely to be the victim of a racist attack in Britain as someone who falls under the wide-ranging ethnic category of "white".

What is also true is that more than 50 per cent of victims of racial incidents are described as "white".

Racial violence in Britain has become the subject of intense scrutiny since the public inquiry in 1999 into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Police are under greater pressure to record all incidents that are perceived by the victim to be racist. As a direct result, the official total of racist incidents in England and Wales rose from 11,878 in 1994-95 to 47,814 in 1999-2000.

This does not mean that Britain is in the grip of an explosion of racial violence. The more reliable British Crime Survey, based on extensive interviews with the public in their homes, showed that the number of "racist incidents" fell from 172,000 in 1995 to 150,000 in 1999. Only a minority of the victims in these cases (41,000 in 1995 and 39,000 in 1999) were from "ethnic minorities".

For those who regard a racist incident as an attack by a member of the white English population on someone of a darker skin, the findings might be surprising. But the figures include attacks by the Welsh on the English, Scots on the Irish, and English on Italians. It also takes account of assaults by young black and Asian criminals on white victims.

Contrary to suggestions made yesterday, the Government's race watchdog, the Commission for Racial Equality, has not tried to shy away from the issue of white victims. Four years ago, in an interview with The Independent, Sir Herman Ouseley, who was the CRE chairman at the time, acknowledged that racism was "not just a white problem".

He published a report called Racial Attacks and Harassment, showing that 238,000 white people told researchers they had been victims of a racial offence in a 12-month period, compared with 101,000 Asians and 42,000 black people.

But in a statement yesterday, the CRE said that "nine out of 10" of the cases bought to it were from ethnic-minority victims. Analysis of the 2000 British Crime Survey recently released by the Home Office, shows that in a year the chances of a white person being the victim of a racial incident were less than 0.5 per cent. Afro-Caribbeans stood a more than 2 per cent chance of being targeted, with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis facing a risk of more than 4 per cent.

Home Office research in 1996 showed that the rates of attacks on Pakistanis could be as high as 8 per cent in a year.

According to the Home Office, racist attacks on ethnic- minority groups had a "noticeably greater impact" on their lives than other crimes.

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