Letter: Don't blame beggars for inner-city tensions

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report on racial harassment in the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne (30 May) quite accurately presented an alarming picture that needs to be seriously addressed. Newcastle City Council will launch a comprehensive system for monitoring racial attacks and harassment shortly, as you noted. This initiative will expand a long-established system for monitoring racial incidents in schools, as well as a more recent mechanism for monitoring the housing field.

In response to information about racial harassment, the city council established a Racial Harassment Support Group about four years ago to extend practical assistance to people facing difficulties. The council has also made grant aid available to voluntary organisations working with the black communities.

As a local councillor, I am angry at the intolerable conditions that have been imposed upon pleasant and friendly people by thugs. I am angry, too, because the rise in racial tension flows directly from the multiple problems of crime, housing shortages and decay, and long-term unemployment that have blighted a series of previously stable communities. And I am angry when I see that the Prime Minister's only response to the effects of his Government's policies is one of sending for the police to hound a few

beggars.

Yours sincerely,

NIGEL TODD

Vice-chair, Racial Equality

Sub-Committee

Civic Centre

Newcastle upon Tyne

30 May

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