Racism remains rife

Race equality legislation supposedly implemented more than a year
ago was meant to produce dramatic results in the public sector. But
the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 has had no such impact on the
promotion of race equality. This is obvious from two recent
episodes, one in which the Department of Health allegedly tried to
water down claims of racism in mental health services, the other in
which the Commission for Racial Equality said a “shocking catalogue
of failure” led up to a racist killing at Feltham young offenders

In the former case, mental health tsar Louis Appleby denied claims
that a critical report by psychiatrist Sashi Sashidharan fell
victim to government censorship, but even Appleby admits that
institutional racism still infects services. Until mental health
services provide care and assessment that are equally appropriate
for all ethnic groups, it will be impossible to say that the
disease has been cured.

So far is the prison system from any cure that the CRE, reporting
on the “preventable” murder of Zahid Mubarek by his cell mate,
found unlawful racial discrimination and urged the Prison Service
to work with it to overcome fundamental weaknesses.

Our mental health services and our prisons are admittedly extreme
examples of racism. But it cannot safely be said to have been
eradicated anywhere in the public sector and that is to its shame.

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