Letter: Racial harassment: intolerance and the limits of the criminal law

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The Independent Online
Sir: While politicians debate the influence of televised 'violence', the reality for the black and minority ethnic citizens of our country is one of continuing racial harassment. As your report of the study by the London Research Centre makes clear, such events are not isolated incidents.

I am delighted to see this subject brought out into the open: research at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations supports the LRC conclusions, and underlines the fact that half of the problem is the failure of society to acknowledge that it goes on.

Until our agencies recognise the hurt felt by black families, and the cumulative impact of a series of apparently minor skirmishes, these families will not be able to feel part of that society, and the Citizen's Charter will remain a hollow joke.

Police Commissioner Paul Condon's insistence on 'total intolerance' of racist behaviour is a start, but it will have to be adopted by other agencies across the land. Racist abuse - from egg-throwing and name-calling to stabbings and arson - is by no means confined to London.

What is more, outside the areas where black and Asian people are a familiar sight in the streets, and no support can be found from other minority neighbours, the harassment continues, and not always with any greater subtlety. Racism is a curious disease, whose victims are not those who are infected with it]

Yours faithfully,


Centre for Research in Ethnic


University of Warwick