Howard to act against racists

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The Independent Online
TOUGH new powers to combat racial harassment, including imprisonment for up to six months, were announced yesterday by the Home Secretary, Michael Howard.

Mr Howard said an offence of causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress would be created to deal with 'racist bullies'. Anyone found guilty could go to prison for up to six months or be fined up to pounds 5,000, or both.

Police will be given powers of immediate arrest for the new offence which will be introduced in an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill.

'The lives of some people are seriously affected by abuse and harassment,' Mr Howard said. 'The corrosive effect of this type of abuse is so serious that it justifies those responsible being sent to prison.'

He added that the amendment had been designed to deal with racial harassment, but would apply equally to victims of racial or sexual harassment.