35.Memorandum submitted by Slough Race
1. CONTEXT AND
1.1 Slough Race Equality Council's Role and
SREC is a grant-aided not-for-profit voluntary
organisation, membership comprising of various communities and
individuals. SREC works with and for all of Slough's diverse communities,
settled and newly arrived. Briefly our aims are to:
promote good community and race relations;
eradicate all forms of racial discrimination;
empower and assist disadvantaged
communities in identifying, raising awareness and addressing their
aid victims of racial discrimination
SREC has expertise in monitoring
community cohesion issues, racial incidents, community tensions
and other local situations.
SREC works in partnership with both
police, other public sector authorities and local communities.
1.2 SREC condemns all acts of terrorism
that abuse human rights and seeks to uphold justice and human
rights for all. In July 2003, Slough REC held a public debate
with local people, police and various groups to discuss the impact
of anti-terrorism legislation on local communities, which raised
various concerns and issues for local people, many contained within
1.3 Demography of Slough's Communities;
(i) Census 2001 indicates over 36% ethnic
minorities in Slough (Muslim 13%, Sikhs 9%, Indian 14%, Pakistani
12%, Black Caribbean 3%, Others 9%.).
(ii) School population figures estimate 52%
from minority communities with over 40 languages spoken in Slough
schools and an estimated 60 on the streets.
(iii) Hospitals estimate up to 80% of births
are from BME backgrounds.
(iv) Slough also has the highest number of
ethnic minorities in the Southeast Region outside of London (estimated
(v) Highest number of Sikhs in Britain living
in one area, (estimated 14,000).
(vi) Census however does not accurately show
the number and diversity of BME communities in the area. Significant
number of newly arrived communities, including refugees and asylum
seekers. Despite it being neither a "priority" nor "official"
NASS dispersal area, Slough has the second highest new arrivals
in the SouthEast (NASS 2003). Extremely poor statistics on the
local variation beyond the censusestimates of 2-3,000,
many from Middle Eastern, Arabic and Asian nations.
(vii) Some of the most deprived wards in
the country and the worst health in the south east.
STATEMENT OF ISSUES AND CONCERNS
2.1 Increasing Hostility, Community Tensions
and Community Cohesion Problems
(i) Anti-terrorism measures, coupled with
the media coverage of them are a major cause of local tensions
and have definitely exploited racial tensions between different
(ii) Young people, especially young Pakistanis
and Sikhs say they are experiencing increased tensions.
(iii) Anti-terrorism measures have created
an atmosphere of paranoia, fear and suspicion in local communities
and has amplified racist hostility towards visible minorities
and refugees; legitimising and justifying racist ideologies of
the far-right BNP and the likes (who are increasingly appearing
in various guises of white "community groups"). In the
climate of fear of terrorism threats, the uneducated so fall prey
to their lies.
(iv) Area Commander of the local Police force
said (18 June 2003), there has been an "enormous" increase
in the level of hate crime since September 11: "Slough has
the highest level of hate crime in the Thames Valley . . . it
is open season racist abuse and those that are perceived as `different'
are often subject to physical attack . . . The Far Right are never
far away, they are always looking to get in and stir up trouble,
waiting on the fringes for their opportunities . . . circulating
like buzzards . . ."
2.2 Nature of Incidents
Racial and religious incidents can involve various
forms and levels of violence and aggression, serial harassment,
verbal abuse and physical intimidation, discrimination of varying
kinds (including institutional)found in homes and neighbourhoods,
in the street and also many problems of targeted bullying in the
2.3 Increased Levels of Racial and Religious
Attacks and Harassment
Particularly in community settings. Local incidents
statistics from police and internal casework monitoring data show
racial incidents consistently increasing to record levels, all
disproportionately affecting BMELast year (2003-04) a record
level of 376 incidents, an increase of 27.9% on the previous year.
There are also high-risk geographical areas in Slough that are
worst affected and more volatile for cohesion concerns (often
2.4 Increasing concerns about racial incidents,
beatings and bullying by security contractors within detention
centresbarriers to reporting, lack of police investigation
and prosecution of perpetrators.
2.5 Increased Isolation, Exclusion and Under-Reporting
Anti-terrorism measures exacerbate factors such
as confidence, fear and mistrust in the policing authorities,
feeling of lack of rights, fear of reprisals, risking a heightened
situation for themselves or their familyall contributing
to a serious problem of under-reporting of racial and religious
attacks and harassment across most communities, with particular
concern about further segregation, isolation and abuse of refugees,
asylum seekers and other newly arrived communities. Anecdotally
there are many, many more incidents of racial harassment that
are not recognised, reported or dealt withSREC and other
local agencies have many examples of such cases.
2.6 Vastly increasing incidence of targeted
islamaphobia; a worrying picture for the area. Police revealed
a foiled plot involving pigs blood and halal butchers. Anecdotal
evidence to suggest Muslim individuals and communities are experiencing
increased fear and abuse. Likewise any visible minority person,
including Sikhs and Afghans are being targeted. For example, Muslim
Women's "hajabs" and Sikh "dastar" (turbans)
have been viciously pulled off. Local NHS staff have noted that
patients from all communities have been "distancing"
themselves from Muslim staff.
2.7 Impact of incidents on victims, also
their families and communities can be profound and devastating,
with huge long term implications on mental health, fear and securityincludes
conflict with colleagues and at home, damaged health to victim,
families and communities, damaged community relations and cohesion.
2.8 Stigmatisation of minority groups publicly
"associated" with terrorismvarious implications
and impact, including:
(i) Anger and high levels of fear at proscribing
community and youth networks and organisations as being "linked
to terrorists" when evidence of links is poor and inconsistentoften
many targeted or banned organisations can represent some of the
most vulnerable people in our society. Perception that decisions
are made at the orders of British or other foreign governments
that have an alternative vested interest to prevent political
or human rights organisations from speaking out and gaining support.
(ii) A few arrests can stigmatise whole communities,
community relations and community cohesion with potentially severe
consequences. Sensitivities can get heightened so that small "trigger
events" could become more serious in no time.
(iii) Otherwise legal activities, financial
transactions and donations (especially international to families
in their homelands) are being unjustly scrutinised, and sometimes
delayed or refused without justification.
(iv) Impact on BME livelihoods as customers
boycott stores and businessesincreases deprivation and
2.9 Media coverage of arrests is extremely
damagingwhy are the press and TV at the front door of a
local minority family when the door is being broken down at three
in the morning? There appears to be serious problems of press
leaks by the police or other organisationsthis also labels
an area, a family, the community, may prejudice the individual's
trial and damages the individuals reputation, even if they are
released uncharged. The enforcement of this legislation is seriously
detrimenting community relations and heightening fear of difference,
fear of their neighbours and fear of "Arab" looking
2.10 At the same time, media encourages
people to fear difference, and legitimises racism, Islamaphobia
and racial and religious intolerance generally. Media is only
serving to make the perception of Britain as a "haven for
2.11 More needs to be done by the mainstream
media agencies at popular viewing and listening times to counteract
the myths and racist ideas being created about Islam and Muslims.
There could be much more done to explore the real Islam (meaning
"peace") and the "real" message of the Qu'ran
eg which states that the killing of one person is like killing
the whole of mankind.
3. IMPACT, CONCERNS
The Metropolitan police operation around Heathrow
was a total public relations and community relations disaster.
Massive community perception that Asian and Arabic, visible minorities
and particularly young males were (and still are) being disproportionately
stopped and searched without reason except for their appearance.
Apparent lack of communication between the Met and the local Thames
Valley Police force at ground level as to the nature and operational
guidelines/local sensitivities of the area. Even a Police Chief,
being "Arab-looking" said he was stopped three times.
3.2 Widespread perception that powers are
being used in a racially discriminatory way particularly operationally
biased toward Muslim and other minority communities (stop and
search, arrests, detentions and the prosecutions). Perception
of lack of accountability of police and Fear about "open
door for racist abuse of police powers in the wrong hands."
Indeed, community reports of arrests of Muslims and later freed
without charge. Perception is reality for peopleand lack
of justification, and perceived discriminatory targeting of young
Asian and Arab males (and indeed families) is causing huge anger
and resentment. It is extremely difficult to ascertain what the
impact can be on a town's community relations. Relations with
local authorities and police will most certainly be severely damaged.
3.3 Refugees and asylum seekers, probably
the most vulnerable, poor, unprotected and often already traumatised
people are further devastated and targeted by links and arrests
under "terrorism" measures.
3.4 Serious concerns about lack of careful
planning, cultural sensitivities and organisation of arrest operations.
Not just the media "leaks" apparently by the police
but poor quality and insensitive planning of raids and arrests
in public places or in the full glare of the neighbours. One community
is also very upset about the care of children of women arrested
in a dawn raidlack of cultural sensitivities and lack of
consultation with communities (not just social services) about
appropriate care provision of the children.
3.5 Decreased communication with police
on statistics and community issues (previously shared) to assist
understanding of community tensions and volatile areas. Eg stop
and search or arrest statistics, racial incidents statistics,
and other ethnic monitoring figures. Refusal to share monitoring
figures on stop and search, especially under anti-terrorism legislation.
3.6 Local peaceful protests are being monitored,
restricted, filmed and criminalisedall without justification
or evidencethis breeds massive resentment against both
local police and the governmentheightens probability of
3.7 Massive fear about the future implications
of widening of investigative and police powers, the "Big
Brother State"Minority communities feel they are being
unfairly targeted and will come under increasing stress and restricted
civil liberties. The ID card is seen to be useless as an anti-terrorism
tool, with more sinister aims of "snooping" and control.
Increased mistrust of authorities, decreased communication and
community intelligence with public services. Perception that "justice"
only applies to white Britons, not to Muslims or other "foreign
4. IMPACT OF
COMMUNITIES & COMMUNITY
4.1 Decreased sense of security for most
visible minorities, especially those of Asian, Middle-Eastern
or Arabic looks. This will include Pakistanis, Sikhs, Afghanis,
Iraqis, Iranians, North Africans and most other communities that
wear head garments, turbans, or even for those who simply have
darker skin. In Slough alone this could potentially number over
4.2 Perception this legislation is being
used to target refugees and asylum seekers, and that immigration
is being used as a smokescreen to enforce racially discriminatory
policies. Refugees seeking haven here already often persecuted
by police or "authorities" in their home countries fear
they will be terrorised here too or deported.
4.3 Ethnic minority communities becoming
more insular and segregatedwhen feeling "under attack",
communities feel safer with their own people, they feel less and
less as "part of the wider community". There appears
to be a separation of communities on an ethnic basis in areas
where racial harassment & incidents are worst, particularly
in majority white areas that are also deprived.
4.4 Lessened sense of being British and
increased sense of religious/national identityeven for
those young people who were born and brought up hereincreased
importance in identity being a Muslim first, increased sense of
"brotherhood" in the face of an enemy in the shape of
their own government and sometimes their local neighbourhoods.
This is a direct result of the threat of the legislation as well
as the "war on terror".
4.5 Decreased sense of freedomeven
in an area of high ethnic minorities, individuals and community
groups have expressed the impact of the terrorism "measures"
on their sense of freedomfreedom of movement into majority
White areas, freedom of travel outside their communities, and
freedom of speech to speak out about the racism, attacks and restrictions
on civil liberties. Fear in participating in our public debate
on this subject.
4.6 Criminalisation of political involvement
or activismIndeed, there is a fear that involvement of
openly speaking out about many political issues, especially terrorism,
if you are non-white as you will be targeted as a terrorist or
unpatriotic or unsympathetic to the victims of 11 September. Even
educated officers of our REC felt too intimidated to attend, let
alone speak out at our debate on impact of anti-terrorism measures.
One individual quoted "it's ok for you to speak out and you
mustwe cannot because we are minorities." This highlights
serious concerns about fear in the community and lack of involvement
in local, national or community politics.
4.7 Easy prey for extremismdue to
this alienation, young people in particular are becoming easier
prey to extremist far right religious and political groups and
are being targeted outside schools with biased literature. Feeling
less belonging and targeted could indeed influence to the individual's
motivation to get involved and belong with such groups.
5. CIVIL LIBERTIES
5.1 Desperate and widespread lack of faith
or confidence in the British judicial system as a direct result
of what is perceived to be secretive and unaccountable anti-terrorism
legislation. Even professionals including local police and lawyers
have expressed disbelief as to the "draconian" laws
(senior police officer said this).
5.2 Perception that anti-terrorism powers
give complete disregard to the most basic human and legal rights
we are so proud of in this countryeven the reason why some
minorities have come to Britain. For example, the right to a fair
trial, the right to liberty, presumption of innocence, the requirement
that the State provide evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt"
(i) Communities outrage at lack of hUman
Rights in having a fair trial.
(ii) Outrage and lack of legal assistance
(iii) Outrage at "indefinite period"
of detention without justification, even with release without
charge after some monthsmassive negative impact on individual
and community relations.
5.3 Extreme concerns about lack of awareness
of cultural sensitivities and awareness of immigration officers.
Many communities travel to and from Slough via Heathrow and there
are numerous anecdotes of rude remarks, rough, insensitive and
unjustified searching of turbans, hajabs and luggage, detainment,
verbal abuse and general bad treatment of minorities coming through
British immigration and customs. Cultural awareness training about
the importance of both gender and cultural sensitivities is imperative.
6.1 Anti-terrorism measures are impacting
on communities and community cohesion in most serious and pervasive
waysintimidating them, criminalising them, stigmatising
them, segregating them, attacking them. Minority communities feel
that the anti-terrorism legislation and its enforcement powers
are being abused, are unfair, racist, illegitimate, and actively
against basic Human and Legal rights. Perception that Justice
is failing those it is supposed to protect.
6.2 Ordinary criminal law is sufficient
to deal with threats and terrorism and there is no evidence to
suggest that the anti-terrorism measures and special powers are
constructively protecting anyone, and are only making a mockery
of decades of community relations and anti-racist work. There
will be increasing and severe community cohesion problems if the
powers are not restricted, made accountable and monitored and
sanctions placed on those found misusing them.
6.3 Must be public accountability to provide
evidence and justification for police to exercise powers under
this act (see 3.2) in all areas (including stop and search, arrest,
detention, and prosecution process).
6.4 Police to take positive action to both
prevent and fully investigate reports of racial incidents with
recommendations for positive community relations (eg community
training, funding for integration events and projects, take sanctions
on perpetrators). Community and race relations officers to spend
more time within local BME communitiescommunication and
6.5 Police to respect the basic human rights
of individuals and their usual procedures and rights that police
usually follow (eg access to legal representation etc, explanation
of arrest etc).
6.6 Police to share statistical and ethnic
monitoring information with local agencies/communities about racial
incidents, arrest and detentions under the anti-terrorism legislation
(eg Race Equality Councils, relevant community groups or welfare
organisations) enhances intelligence gathering, prevention and
appropriate policing of disturbances, and would go some way to
re-building good community relations and mutual trust with authorities.
6.7 In the case that local Police wish to
film any event, they will notify beforehand the organisers of
any community demonstrations, protests and the like, with explanation
of reason & intent of use & distribution of the film.
6.8 The climate of fear of Islamophobia,
lack of support, even threat from the authorities on Muslims is
creating fertile ground for extremists to prey on young Muslims.
More money should be put into youth projects for minority and
disaffected youths in all areas.
6.9 More long term and core funding for
community and integration projects for all age groups especially
in deprived areas or with deprived communitiesneed re-inclusion
of ethnicity into deprivation indices. Severe funding needs in
voluntary and community sectorbut also individual funds
like Community Champions extremely effective.
6.10 Open, vocal support of Islam and Muslims
in Britain followed by appropriate positive action initiatives
by senior government. Zero tolerance of racism and Islamaphobia
in policing, immigration and security services under an accountable
legislative framework is essential (ie severe punishment for those
not justifiying arrests and detention without adequate evidence).
Anti-Terrorism Legislation and its Implementation
6.11 A complete overhaul (even repeal) of
all Anti-terrorism legislation (2000 and 2001), to re-incorporate
respect to human rights and basic legal rights into the legislation
and powers. Restore all human rights and due legal process (the
right of habeus corpus) under the anti-terrorism legislationincluding:
(i) Everyone must be treated as innocent
until proven guilty.
(ii) Public accountability and justification
for arrest and detention and prosecution.
(iii) No detention without charge.
(iv) Right to information and evidence.
(v) Right to a fair trial.
6.12 Annual monitoring and review of all
actions taken under the legislation and their impact on social
cohesion and the actual protection of citizens against "real
6.13 A Race impact assessment should be
undertaken in widespread consultation with all interested parties
and communities, including race equality councils, community and
religious organisations locally and nationally.
6.14 Definition of "terrorism"
and what constitutes "terrorist links" too broadis
confusing, unhelpful, can be misused and misrepresented to suit
a different purpose. Should be narrowed specifically to include
need for accountability, for evidence and justification of proscription
of groups. Even the British government would fit into the current
6.15 Repeal all bans on proscribed (banned)
organisations where there is not public accountability and independent
evidence to do so (not just on the order of individuals, political
parties or governments).
6.16 Need for statutory code of practice
on implementation of Acts and exercising of powers.
6.17 The above code to include best practice
in execution of police powersthis should include ethnic
and religious monitoring of all stop and search, arrests, detentions
and outcomes of CPS processes, detailed cultural/religious awareness
training for officers.
6.18 Religious discrimination legislation
to be implemented and extended to all public services, including
the police and specific justification given in execution of police
powers in terrorism measures.
14 September 2004