25 years on from Stephen Lawrence’s murder, minorities sceptical of progress on prejudice

Posted on 22 April 2018

25 years since the tragic murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, less than half of ethnic minority Britons feel there has been progress on racial prejudice over the last quarter-century, according to new research on attitudes to race and integration. The findings, that 16% think Britain was less prejudiced in 1993, one third (33%) feel it is about the same and 44% say levels of prejudice were higher 25 years ago, are revealed in a new poll of attitudes among Britain’s ethnic minorities, by Survation for British Future.

Strikingly, despite the Macpherson report recommending changes to a Met police that it deemed ‘Institutionally racist”, just 21% of ethnic minority respondents to the Survation poll said there was less unfair treatment today by the police, such as high stop and search levels – with 34% saying it happens more today and 33% feeling things are about the same. Black respondents were particularly likely to say there was more police discrimination today, with 40% saying things are worse now than in 1993; 35% of Asian respondents agreed.

When asked about discrimination when applying for jobs, just 29% of ethnic minority respondents felt there was less discrimination today, with 30% feeling things were the same as in 1993 and 29% feeling there is more discrimination today. And just 20% think there is less violent crime towards people because of their race, with 37% of ethnic minorities saying there is more today than in 1993.

The poll surveyed 1,023 ethnic minority respondents alongside a nationally representative survey of 2,000 people of all ethnic backgrounds across the UK. It was commissioned for the report Many rivers crossed: Britain’s attitudes to race and integration 50 years since ‘Rivers of Blood’, released this week on the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s infamous speech.

The report finds that most people, including among ethnic minorities, agree that Britain is less prejudiced today than 50 years ago when Powell delivered his Birmingham speech. It finds that 75% of Britons would be comfortable if their child married someone of a different race and 79% across the UK would be comfortable if the Prime Minister was from a different ethnic background to their own.

But 25 years on from the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, Britain’s ethnic minority citizens are sceptical that there has been enough progress on race relations in the last quarter century.

British Future Director Sunder Katwala said:

“Britain feels very different to me today than it did 25 years ago. I was living on Eltham’s Well Hall Road at the time of the Macpherson report and my sense is of progress on attitudes to race since then – so it’s worrying that others don’t share this confidence.

“There is clearly still a problem with prejudice in Britain, even it is confined to a minority today – most people can agree, no matter what our views on immigration policy, that its wrong to take it out on individuals because of the colour of their skin.

“There is still much work to do before everyone feels that they are getting the same chances in life as their fellow citizens, regardless of the colour of their skin.”

Thinking about general levels of racial prejudice in Britain, do you think that levels of racial prejudice were higher, lower, or about the same 25 years ago in 1993 as they are today? (Ethnic minorities)

Higher than today 43%
About the same as today 33%
Lower than today 16%
Don’t know 8%

Survation for British Future, 2018

 

Thinking about racial discrimination when applying for jobs – does it happen more or less today than in 1993? (Ethnic minority respondents)

Happens less today 29%
Happens more today 29%
About the same 30%

Survation for British Future, 2018

 

Thinking about unfair treatment by the police, e.g. high stop and search levels– does it happen more or less today than in 1993? (Ethnic minority respondents)

Happens less today 21%
Happens more today 34%
About the same 32%

Survation for British Future, 2018

 

Thinking about violent crime against people because of their race – does it happen more or less today than in 1993? (Ethnic minority respondents)

Happens less today 20%
Happens more today 37%
About the same 31%

Survation for British Future, 2018

Read Sunder Katwala on the murder of Stephen Lawrence here

Read  Many rivers crossed: Britain’s attitudes to race an integration 50 years since rivers of blood here

 

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