Ethnic minorities most likely to be both victims and suspects of crime, UK race report finds

Black, Asian and mixed-raced people more than one and a half times more likely to be arrested than white people – and considerably more likely to be victims of crime, race audit reveals

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 11 October 2017 00:50 BST
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Although the proportion of white adults experiencing at least one crime fell from 17 per cent to 15 per cent in the three years to 2016, there was no significant change for ethnic minorities
Although the proportion of white adults experiencing at least one crime fell from 17 per cent to 15 per cent in the three years to 2016, there was no significant change for ethnic minorities (Getty)

Ethnic minorities are more likely than their white counterparts to be both suspected of and victims of crime in England and Wales, according to a landmark Government report that lays bare the deep-seated racial inequality across the country.

The Race Disparity Audit, launched by Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, reveals that black, Asian and mixed-raced people were over one and a half times more likely to be arrested than white people last year.

The same group was also more likely to fall victim to crime than white people, with nearly one in five being hit by crime in 2015-16, compared with 15 per cent for white people.

In a damning indictment of racial inequality in Britain, the report reveals widely varying outcomes in areas including education, employment, health and criminal justice between Britain’s white and ethnic minority populations.

It shows that black people were more than three times more likely to be arrested than white people, with black men almost three and a half times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.

Black defendants in Crown Court cases were also the most likely to be remanded in custody, while black offenders had the highest rate of reoffending compared with other ethnic groups from 2006 to 2014.

While overall arrests in England and Wales saw a decline of 5 per cent last year, a breakdown of ethnicity shows that while for white people the figure has fallen by 10 per cent, for ethnic minorities it has fallen by just 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, ethnic minority groups also emerged as being most likely to be victims of crime, at 19 per cent compared with 15 per cent of their white counterparts.

Although the proportion of white adults experiencing at least one crime fell from 17 per cent to 15 per cent in the three years to 2016, there was no significant change for ethnic minorities.

These figures are echoed in people’s fear of crime, with a smaller proportion of white adults reporting fear of crime compared with Asian adults, adults from other ethnicities and black adults. Asian adults and adults from the other ethnic background category had the highest levels of fear of crime.

In the Asian, black and mixed adult populations, a higher proportion of people in managerial or professional jobs experienced crime compared to people of the same ethnicity in long-term unemployment, while among the white population, more unemployed adults experienced crime than adults in managerial and professional jobs.

Dr Zubaida Haque, an associate at the Runnymede Trust who has been working with the University of Greenwich on research into ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system, said the figures reflected discrimination in police practicies.

“High arrest rates among ethnic minorities partly reflect discriminatory police practices," she told The Independent.

"This and the higher chances of them falling victims to crime also has to do with the areas in which they live – ethnic minorities are more likely to live in deprived areas where there is more crime taking place.

“The reason there are racist disparities is there’s this prevalent perception that black people are more criminal. We need to talk about this and challenge that because all the research shows that black people are not more criminal.”

The wide-ranging race report, published on the new Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, also revealed higher unemployment rates and lower home ownership among ethnic minorities compared to white British adults.

British white groups also fall behind in some instances, the data showed, with white British pupils on school meals less likely to reach the expected standard at Key Stage 2 than any other ethnic group.

It also found:

  • Asian, black and other ethnic groups were disproportionately likely to be on a low income, with almost half of households in the bottom 40 per cent nationally before housing costs were taken into account.
  • Households of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black, mixed and other backgrounds were more likely to receive income-related benefits and tax credits than those in other ethnic groups.
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers received the lowest average hourly pay of £11.42, while Indian workers received the highest on £15.81.
  • Ethnic minorities are more likely to live in areas of deprivation, especially black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.
  • White British adults were the most likely to eat the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day but were also among the most likely to be overweight and to drink alcohol at harmful levels.
  • Police officers from non-white groups were more concentrated in lower ranks
  • Around one in 10 Army personnel are from an ethnic minority background but the figure falls to just one in 50 for the RAF.

The report has prompted campaigners to urge ministers to lead the way in tackling the inequalities, but also to acknowledge that society as a whole must change to ensure a level playing field for black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) Britons, as well as white people.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission meanwhile called for a “comprehensive and coherent race equality strategy” from the Government.

Meeting campaigners at 10 Downing Street, Ms May admitted the findings were “uncomfortable” and said there would be “nowhere to hide” for public bodies which fail to respond. Departments would have to “explain or change” areas of their work where different racial groups received differing levels of service.

Labour’s equalities spokeswoman Dawn Butler said that Ms May had written to then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 warning of the risk that austerity would disproportionately hit minorities.

“As Prime Minister, knowing full well the damage that would be caused by the Conservative cuts, Theresa May has done nothing but exacerbate the problem,” said Ms Butler. “Far from tackling burning injustices, she has added fuel to the fire.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “Theresa May’s decision to shine a light on this issue means she can’t now shy away from tackling the causes of this inequality – including cuts to public services and a shrinking state.”

Martha Spurrier, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: “The bleak picture this report paints of racial injustice in the UK demands an immediate and bold response. But the solutions the Government is putting up are little more than a plaster on a gaping wound.”

London’s deputy mayor for social integration, Matthew Ryder, said: “This is very troubling information, but sadly all too familiar reading for those who have been deeply concerned about inequality in Britain for many years.

“While we welcome the publication of this data, and the Prime Minister’s commitment to ‘explain or change’ the disparities it highlights, this must now be accompanied by the resources and action necessary to make a real difference.”

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