Home Office release official figures as police claim that political
correctness is stifling the debate
Nearly half of all victims of racially motivated murders in the last
decade have been white, according to official figures released by
the Home Office.
The data, released under Freedom of Information legislation, shows
that between 1995 and 2004 there have been 58 murders where the
police consider a racial element played a key part. Out of these, 24
have been where the murder victim was white.
The disclosure will add to the intense debate over multiculturalism
in British society. The figures also overturn the assumption that
almost all racial murders are committed against ethnic minority
Senior police officers have admitted that 'political correctness'
and the fear of discussing the issue have meant that race crime
against white people goes under-reported. One chief constable has
claimed that white, working-class men are more alienated than the
Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Cheshire and a spokesman on race
issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was a
fact that it was harder to get the media interested where murder
victims were young white men.
'The political correctness and reluctance to discuss these things
absolutely does play a factor', he said. 'A lot of police officers
and other professions feel almost the best thing to do is try and
avoid it for fear of being criticised. We probably have all got
ourselves into a bit of state about this.
'The difficulty in the police service is that the whole thing is
being closed down because we are all afraid of discussing any of it
in case we say the wrong thing - and that is not healthy.'
Racial violence in Britain has become the subject of intense
scrutiny since the public inquiry in 1999 into the murder of black
teenager Stephen Lawrence. Most of the high-profile cases of hate
crime have been focused on young blacks, including Damilola Taylor
and more recently Anthony Walker, who was murdered with an axe at a
Liverpool bus stop by white youths.
Yet these latest official figures give the most complete picture of
racially motivated murders in the UK, revealing the situation to be
much more complex. In March 2004 a white Scottish teenager, Kriss
Donald, was bundled into a car while walking in the Pollokshields
area of Glasgow. He was later beaten, stabbed 13 times, and set on
fire. British Pakistani Daanish Zahid was found guilty by unanimous
verdict of the charges of racially aggravated murder.
In the same year Christopher Yates, 30, a white man, was beaten to
death in an assault by a group of drunken Asian youths as he walked
home in Barking, east London.
Politicians and the authorities often face difficulty in raising the
issue of racial attacks on white victims for fear that far-right
extremists will try to exploit such events to stir up racial
Fahy also warned of caution in over-interpreting the figures. He
said that the 24 white victims also included those who were Jewish, 'dark-skinned' Europeans or gypsies. In addition, seven of those
were killed by white attackers, four by black, six by Asian, with
seven whose racial background was not identified.
Police have suggested that some white-on-white killings may be a
result of attacks between Scots, English, Irish and Welsh people.
Overall, there have been 10 black victims and 16 Asian victims. Of
the 58 race murders, 18 have been where a white attacker has killed
a black or Asian individual and another 14 where one member of a
minority group has murdered another for racial reasons.
'This shows the complex society we are policing,' said Fahy.
'I will be honest with some of this discussion about the alienation
of Muslim people. Police officers would tell you there are a lot of
young people out there who feel alienated.
'There are a lot of young white working-class lads, particularly on
the more difficult estates, who are hugely alienated. Yet very
little attention is given to that.
'Sometimes we forget that ethnic minorities actually make up quite a
small percentage of the population.'
Three years ago Phil Woolas, MP for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency, who is now Minister for Community Cohesion, said
'political correctness' was stopping racism against white people
from being condemned. As a result, he said, attacks on whites by
black and Asian people are not criticised by politicians and could
harm race relations in Britain.
'This government has worked hard to improve the investigation and
prosecution of these crimes across all ethnic groups.'
In 1999 the Commission for Racial Equality published a report that
concluded that most racial crimes were committed against white
people, although it pointed out that at the time white people made
up 94 per cent of the population and that, proportionally, black and
Asian people were still far more likely to be victims of race
The report suggested that white people might also be more likely to
report a crime such as a street robbery carried out by a black
person as a racial incident.
A spokeswoman for the CRE said the Home Office figures raised some
interesting issues but she did not want to comment further until the
data could be properly analysed.