Neil Thompson looks at new Home Office research into the
experiences of ethnic minorities in relation to crime, policing and
In the latest report from the Home Office Research, Development
and Statistics Directorate we find an account of the main findings
of the 2000 British Crime Survey covering the experiences of ethnic
minorities concerning crime and the related matters of policing and
the justice system. It is a detailed study, running to some 180
The Macpherson Report1 of the inquiry into the murder
of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has created many ripples in the
criminal justice system and certainly made people think carefully
about the relationship between race and ethnicity on the one hand,
and crime, justice and policing on the other.
The findings of the crime survey are wide-ranging, but the key
issues that arise include some unsurprising, but nonetheless
significant, points – namely that people from ethnic
– Run a greater risk of suffering from crime than white
– Worry more about crime than white people.
– Are less satisfied than white people with the service they
receive from the police.
This survey therefore adds weight to the argument that more
could be done to eradicate racism and develop a society in which
equality and diversity are valued and promoted.
The report also suggests that members of ethnic minorities were
more inclined to report racially motivated crimes to the police
than had previously been the case.
The researchers point out that their work is based on
descriptive statistics and therefore does not, in itself, provide
or indicate solutions to problems.
However, such statistics can indicate where solutions are needed
and can therefore provide important pointers for policy development
and day-to-day practice.
Of course, it would be an over-simplification to transfer these
findings in relation to crime, policing and justice to a social
care context, but we should not be complacent.
While the police have come in for particularly telling criticism
in recent years, social work and social care agencies have also
faced their fair share of criticism for not doing enough to tackle
The implementation earlier this year of the Race Relations
(Amendment) Act 2000 cannot, of course, be expected to have made a
major difference overnight, but it is to be hoped that its
influence and impact will steadily develop and enable the act to
substantially underpin anti-racist practice.
This research, based as it is on an extensive survey, provides a
wealth of information about these issues and is a significant and
very welcome addition to the literature.
In my view, effective anti-racist practice needs to be based on
sophisticated theorising rather than simplistic dogma, and such
theory in turn relies on well-developed empirical research rather
than untested assumptions.
We shall therefore continue to need important pieces of research
like this to develop not only the theoretical base, but also
committed and skilful practice and the equality and diversity
policies that should support it.
The report, Crime, Policing and Justice: The Experience of
Ethnic Minorities – Findings from the 2000 British Crime Survey by
Anna Clancy, Mike Hough, Rebecca Aust and Chris Kershaw, is
published by the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics
Directorate (Home Office Research Study 223), October, 2001. It can
be downloaded from www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/index.htm
Neil Thompson is author of Anti-Discriminatory Practice and
Promoting Equality, both published by Palgrave
1 M Macpherson, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Cm.
4262-1, Stationery Office, 1999
2 L Penketh, Tackling Institutional Racism:
Anti-Racist Policies and Social Work Education and Training, The
Policy Press, 2000