Immigrants must show loyalty to nation, says report

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A devastatingly frank picture of racial segregation in inner cities was outlined yesterday with the publication of a report into the implications of the summer's riots in northern towns.

A devastatingly frank picture of racial segregation in inner cities was outlined yesterday with the publication of a report into the implications of the summer's riots in northern towns.

The community cohesion review team, set up by the Government to identify good practice and important issues in the wake of the disturbances, makes for uncomfortable reading for politicians, community leaders and individuals.

The team, led by the former Nottingham City Council chief executive Ted Cantle, concludes that separate places of worship, employment, housing and schooling means many communities "operate on the basis of a series of parallel lives".

The disturbances in Burnley, Bradford and Oldham should not be seen as "a little local difficulty" but as a wake-up call for race relations in the 21st century, its report states.

Published simultaneously with two separate reports into the disturbances in Oldham and Burnley, its 79-page, no-nonsense report makes 67 practical recommendations.

Its suggestions include an oath of allegiance for new immigrants, the universal acceptance of the English language, and a greater role for young people in policy-making.

Citizenship

"A meaningful concept of 'citizenship' needs establishing and championing" by both government and individuals, the report states. It recommends that a clear "statement of allegiance" to the United Kingdom should be established for immigrants who want a British passport. Current British citizens could voluntarily sign up to this too. The oath of allegiance should include "a clear primary loyalty to this nation".

It calls for agreement that "the expectation that the use of the English language ... or a commitment to become fluent within a period of time ... will become more rigorously pursued".

Suggestions for "common elements of nationhood" include respect for the law, support for women's rights, and respect for both religious difference and secular views.

Schools

"Existing and future mono-cultural schools can add significantly to the separation of communities," the report states.

"The development of more faith-based schools may, in some cases, lead to an increase in monocultural schools. We are concerned that existing faith-based schools appear to be operating discriminatory policies where religious affiliations protect cultural and ethnic divisions."

It notes the Government belief that new faith schools should be more "inclusive" but points out that "the means to achieve this has not yet been established".

The report recommends that all schools, whether faith or non-faith based, should offer at least 25 per cent of places to reflect "other cultures or ethnicities within their local area".

All schools should be required to undertake inter-school twinning, while "contact with other cultures" could become a condition of funding.

More ethnic minority teachers and governors should be recruited, while the problem of a lack of male teachers should be urgently addressed to help tackle problems of "disaffected youth".

Policing

The police are praised for the changes made since the riots in Bradford in 1995, but there was criticism of a lack of representation of ethnic groups, as well as policing of far-right marches. The report calls for "a more pro-active approach with regard to the banning of potential inflammatory marches, demonstrations and assemblies", and clear national guidance on the issue.

The report found that ethnic communities in particular were most concerned that police had "tolerated or contained" drugs problems and as a result in effect created virtual "no-go areas". Equally, "minority communities must also face the fact that over time they have adopted a toleration of certain types of criminality", the report adds.

The lack of financial rewards and career progression within community policing should also be tackled with urgency.

Political parties

The mainstream political parties do not escape censure in the report, with strong criticism of secretive "sweetheart deals" that offer funding in return for voting allegiance from specific ethnic groups. The criticism is inevitably directed at the Labour Party, as it has traditionally secured Asian votes and councillors.

The "politics of 'back home' ", where ethnic miniority councillors further sectional interests, is cited as a frequent distraction from the real needs of an area. "All institutions must examine their relationships with different sections of the local community and ensure there are no further 'sweetheart deals' with self-appointed, often unrepresentative community custodians."

The report recommends that political parties revisit their codes of conduct and calls for a cross-party statement on standards of behaviour to be in place by May's local elections.

Housing

Planning of new estates should take "community cohesion" into account, using the opportunity to change catchment areas for schools and create more mixed communities. Pilot schemes to re-establish viable housing markets should be considered.

State funding

The report is particularly robust about the perceived problem of black and other groups receiving more funding than white groups. "There is an assumption that black and ethnic minority groups are in need and in general that their needs will be the greatest. This may in fact not be the case," it says.

Black groups resented being seen as "recipients" or "a problem", while whites felt their needs were not always recognised. To make matters worse, funding of projects that support separate and distinct community interests tend to "reinforce cultural differences" and deepen rather than lessen divisions.

Programmes should be based on need rather than ethnic grounds, the report says.

Youth services

The team found that young people from both ethnic minority and white groups had been historically excluded from decision-making as their communal elders failed to represent their views and frustrations.

The report calls for "a much greater investment" in the Youth Service, which it describes as being in a "parlous state" in many areas.

It recommends development of the Youth Parliament to give under-18s a voice and calls for summer facilities, many of which are valuable in defusing local tensions, to be made year-round. Councils should have a statutory duty to provide youth services and consult young people.

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