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British institutions need to ‘keep up with Obama’s generation’

The Black community is more negative about treatment by the police, says report

26 January 2009 – British people are increasingly at ease with racial diversity but lack faith in institutions to represent all groups or treat them fairly, says a new research for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Ten years on from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a Ipsos MORI report shows about half (49%) of the general public are optimistic Britain will be a more tolerant society in ten years time. This figure increases for members of ethnic minorities with 58% optimistic about the future.

When considering the police inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s murder over half (53%) of ethnic minorities think there would be similar failings today in the way they would investigate such a crime, and this figure rises to 56% among Black residents. Half of Muslims and non-Muslim Asians (each 50%) also believe this to be the case. Indeed, over one in three (36%) of the public at large believe there would be similar failings now.

The Black community is more negative about treatment by the police. Overall 38% of the Black community think they would be treated worse than other races by the Police. And 45% of black men think they would be treated worse compared with 32% of Black women.

The study also shows that faith and belief may be a more significant source of division in Britain than race today. Three in five (60%) of the general population and two in three (66%) of those in ethnic minority groups think religion is more divisive than race.

The majority of the general public (70%) is comfortable for their children to choose a partner of a different race or faith.

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission, said:
‘This survey reinforces my faith in the basic decency of the British people. At this historic moment, when America has chosen its first black leader, it is heartening to recognise that here in Britain we have a sophisticated sense of our own identity and an appreciation and interest in difference. But we can’t be complacent. The survey points to emerging religious divisions and as we mark a darker moment in our own history, the tenth anniversary of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it is clear the police still have work to do to convince our ethnic minority communities they deserve their trust. I believe the police are sincere about change but they, and other British institutions, need to work harder to keep up with an Obama generation so positive about the future and the diversity of Britain.’

Ben Page, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Public Affairs, commented: ‘This poll shows Britain is becoming a more racially tolerant society although obviously there are still differences across the population. Generally the picture is one of optimism, and ten years on from Macpherson the fact that we are able to have such a positive debate about race shows how far we have come and how much change there has been.’

On the day Obama becomes the USA’s first Black president just over half of the general public in this country (56%) think it is likely Britain will have a Black, Asian or mixed race Prime Minister in the next 10 to 20 years.

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