Background to the Council's racial harassment strategy
2.1.1. In 1989 the Home Office published a report of the Inter - Departmental Racial Attacks Group entitled, "The Response to Racial Attacks and Harassment: Guidance for the Statutory Authorities". One of the main conclusions of that report was that all the major statutory agencies, at both a central and a local level, have a responsibility to develop and implement policies on racial harassment and that this can best be achieved by a multi - agency approach.
2.1.2. The Home Office Report recognised that there is a low incidence of reporting of racial attacks and harassment and it is difficult to collect reliable data about the true extent of the problem.
The Police collect statistics of racial incidents and a comparison of statistics for the London Borough of Richmond for 1995 and 1996 is at Appendix 1. Racial incidents are defined by all agencies after the Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry in 1999 as:
"Any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."
2.2. The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
2.2.1. The Report also recognised that racial attacks do not only occur in areas where there is a large ethnic minority population. Where members of ethnic minorities live in predominately white areas they may be particularly at risk because of their isolation and lack of adequate community support.
This point is particularly relevant to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, in that the percentage of people classifying themselves as belonging to minority groups is 9%. This is one of the smallest percentages of any London Borough, although average when compared to the rest of the country, and equates to 15,550 residents.
2.2.2. The Borough’s ethnic minority population is characterised as very diverse, with 70 languages recorded as being spoken by school children in the Borough; the most common being, Gujerati, Punjabi, Arabic, Bengali and French. As well as people classifying themselves for Census purposes as Mixed, Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi), Black (Caribbean, or African) and Chinese , there are also Irish, Jewish and people from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
2.2.3. The relative size and diversity of the ethnic minority community means that some of the issues which the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has to address are different from those in some other London Boroughs.
However, the challenges this poses must not be a barrier to delivering effective services which are essential in maintaining the personal safety of those living and working in the Borough or for whom the Council has some responsibility.