'Unacceptable segregation' in Bradford

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The Independent Online

A long-awaited race relations report claims that Bradford is a city of segregated ethnic communities in which schools are doing nothing to promote racial understanding.

The report by Lord Ouseley, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, attacks the marginalisation of communities along racial, ethnic and religious lines and urges an audit of the number of jobs in public bodies filled by people from ethnic minorities.

His report will be published on Thursday, days after riots that left 160 police officers injured in running battles with Asians in Manningham. It depicts Bradford as a city in "a grip of fear". It says: "There is a fear of people talking openly and honestly because of possible repercussions, recriminations and victim isation. There is the fear of challenging wrongdoing because of being labelled racist. There is the fear of confronting the gangs culture, the illegal drugs trade and the growing racial intolerance, harassment and abuse that exists."

Yesterday, Lord Ouseley's findings were reflected in his comments on the riots – a position at odds with Tony Blair, who portrayed them as an issue of law and order in which, through "thuggery", young Asians ended up "destroying their own community".

Lord Ouseley can claim authenticity for his report since it is largely a reflection of local views. It was commissioned by the city council after the loss of representation for racial minorities when Bradford's Race Equality Council closed amid claims of mismanagement. It is expected to portray low levels of academic achievement in many city schools, and children leaving full-time education with little knowledge of how other communities live. (There are 63 private Muslim schools in the city and Britain's first Muslim state secondary school).

"There is a fear of confronting all-white and all-Muslims schools about their contribution, or rather the lack of contribution, to social and racial integration and segregation in schools ... one sign that the communities are fragmenting along racial, cultural and faith lines," the report states.

His recommendation that young people from all backgrounds are needed to build Bradford's future was also the finding of a 1996 report into previous Manningham riots, suggesting that the report will prove an uncomfortable inquisition into what lessons Bradford learnt after the 1995 riots, which were largely a protest against police treatment of Asians.

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old boy appeared before Bradford Youth Court yesterday charged with violent disorder. He was remanded into the custody of the local care authority. He was one of 21 people charged with offences relating to the riots.