Letter: 'Racial crime' notion makes no sense

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The Independent Online
Sir: The concept of a racial crime as distinct from a normal crime seems irrational, nonsensical and impracticable ('MPs call for new laws to tackle wave of violence', 23 June). If blacks attack a white or Asian, and this does happen, will the courts construe this as racial? If a mixed gang of whites and blacks attacks an Asian, does this constitute a racial attack? If Asian youths retaliate violently against whites or blacks indiscriminately, will the assailants be judged to have racial motives?

If the adherents of one religion harass those of another, is the law to take account of the religious dimension and impose a more severe (or perhaps less severe) penalty for the crime?

The law is difficult enough now to interpret and apply. To add the complication of racial intent would import casuistic deliberations reminiscent of those of the medieval schoolmen: a development hardly likely to enhance the reputation of the courts or advance the cause of justice.

Faithfully,

E. PAULL

London, SW16

23 June

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