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Race And Criminal Cowardice
Race And Criminal Cowardice
Race And Criminal Cowardice
From RN29, Oct-Dec 2000

John Woods
Dissects an unsatisfactory Home Office study of race and crime

I acquired recently a copy of a 1999 Home Office publication entitled Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System: A Home Office publication under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991*. The 1999 edition is the fifth in a series, with previous reports issued in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1997. This remarkable study makes for a most interesting read.

First, you have to wade through the statutory foreword by Jack Straw telling us that we must learn the lessons of the Macpherson report, and purge the criminal justice system of "institutional racism". Then we have another foreword by Mr Justice Rose, Chairman of the Criminal Justice Consultative Committee, stating that we must learn the lessons of the Macpherson Report and purge the criminal justice system of "institutional racism". Then we have an insert from the Commission for Racial Equality telling us that we must learn the lessons of the Macpherson Report and purge the criminal justice system of "institutional racism".

Then we have a discussion on deaths of black people in police custody. Then we are told that blacks are six times more likely to be stopped and searched by police. Then we are told that racist incidents are up by 66% over the last year, "although this is thought to be due to better reporting". Then we have the usual breast-beating about how there are not enough black policemen, prison officers, magistrates or judges. Then we are told that 9% of homicide victims in the UK in the period covered by the survey (1996-99) were black, an over-representation by a factor of four and a half (although we are not told who committed these murders.)

And then - finally - buried half way down Table 7.5 on page 44, we get some real figures. 'Res ipsa loquitor', as they doubtless say in Brixton police station canteen. Bear in mind that 2% of the population of the UK is classified as black. The figures are stark: as of 30th June 1998, 7.1% of those serving prison sentences for burglary were black. The equivalent figure for theft and handling is 7.5%, for sexual offences 8.1%, violence against the person 9.7%, fraud and forgery 13.2% and drugs offences 19%, while for robbery it is a staggering 22.6%. Now, the massive over-representation of blacks in these categories, could, I am sure, be 'explained' by reference to "institutional racism". There will no doubt be many who hold that these are the only career options open to black youths. But I defy even Lord Macpherson to explain, for example, a four-fold over-representation in sex crimes among blacks by reference to that meaningless concept. Perhaps wisely, the Home Office does not give us a breakdown of the racial origins of the victims of black sexual crime.
I would also be interested in seeing the figures for juveniles convicted of sexual offences.

Moreover, virtually every Asian ethnic group within the UK is under-represented in the jails - except in fraud cases. The incarceration rate for Indians is one fourteenth of the black rate. Yet, presumably, Asians must be labouring under the same yoke of societal "institutional racism" as blacks? Furthermore, if we are to explain the six-fold over-representation of blacks in prison by reference to that elastic concept, and we note the fact that whites are over-represented in prison in comparison with Asians, then the logical conclusion would seem to be that the criminal justice system must be "institutionally racist" against whites.
But that would be an absurd conclusion.

Blacks represent 2% of the population of the UK, 12% of the jail population and 15% of incarcerated young offenders. Even this, however, does not tell the full story, as the figures do not distinguish between Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. It may be an hypothesis too far, but I would be prepared to wager that the following propositions are true: that the proportion of blacks of African origin incarcerated, although significantly larger than the percentage of whites or Asians, will be significantly smaller than the proportion of Afro-Caribbeans. Therefore the over-representation among Afro-Caribbeans will be even more extraordinary than these figures would suggest. I suspect also that the sociological profile of the type of crime for which Africans are imprisoned will be rather different than that for Afro-Caribbeans. Astoundingly, blacks are over-represented by a factor of six or seven among those incarcerated for fraud and forgery. I suspect that the majority of these will be West Africans rather than West Indians.

Massaging the figures
But the real story here is the way that the Home Office has presented the figures. The statistics would appear to have been set out in a deliberately misleading, confusing and obfuscatory manner, designed to prevent the casual reader from working out the true situation. One has to wade through reams of information on arrest rates in the various county police forces, where very few members of ethnic minorities reside, and the figures for the Met., the West Midlands etc, are buried among them. It is not terribly meaningful to tell us that 99% of those arrested by Dyfed-Powys or Devon & Cornwall Police are white. Moreover, the percentages of arrests for the various different ethnic groups within a particular police area are not compared with the actual ethnic breakdown of the population within that area, except for the Metropolitan Police District and a few others. And these are presented several pages apart, perhaps in the hope that no-one will notice them.

The picture in London
According to the Home Office figures, 7.5 % of the population of London are black. A quarter of all the arrests in the Metropolitan Police District are of black people. As relatively few blacks live in suburban areas of London, I would suggest that they must now represent a majority, or close to it, in arrests in almost every category of crime in the inner London boroughs. Blacks represent 54% of those arrested for robbery in London. In the inner city, this must surely be 80-90%. Again, the race of the victims of these robberies is not recorded. I wonder why not.

Another jaw-dropping statistic: during the period 1996-1999 which this survey covers, 59 black people and 69 white people died from gunshot wounds. The chances of a black person being shot dead are therefore approximately 40 times higher than for a white person. In virtually every case, blacks who died of gunshot wounds were shot by other blacks.

"Racially motivated incidents"
On page 47 of this extraordinary document, one finds another startling statistic relating to "racially motivated incidents". The British Crime Survey, published in 1998, estimates that in 1995, 382,000 offences were racially motivated. Of these, 143,000 were committed against members of ethnic minorities, and 238,000 against white people. This fact is extraordinary enough in itself. More extraordinary still is the lack of further discussion given to it in this report. And of course, the Home Office is not indelicate enough to point out the obvious corollary: if the ethnic minorities comprise 6% of the population of the UK, and are producing 238,000 racial assaults per year, and the white population, who comprise 94% of the population, are producing 143,000 racial assaults per year, it would appear that, on a per capita basis, the ethnic minorities are producing about 25 times more racial assaults than the white population. In fact, this clearly underestimates the discrepancy, since some of the racial assaults against blacks will have been committed by Asians, and some (I would guess a lot) of the assaults on Asians will have been committed by blacks (like the murderous attack on Abdul Bhatti at Notting Hill). Moreover, the British Crime Survey does not tell us who committed the 238,000 racial assaults against whites. I think we may safely assume that the majority were not committed by Sikhs, Parsees, Thais or Hong Kong Chinese.
Obviously, certain caveats must be borne in mind. What constitutes a racial assault? If two motorists of different pigmentations get into an altercation over a parking space, does this constitute a racial incident? If one of them employs racial epithets in the course of the dispute, does it then become one? Fortunately, we now know what constitutes a racial assault, because Macpherson's definition has been accepted by the Government, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, and is reproduced in this document. "A racial incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person". So, if 238,000 white people per year perceive themselves to have been the victims of racist crimes, then they must have been, mustn't they?

Missing the point
On page 15 of the Home Office document, we are told "Much (sic) of these differences were found to be due to socio-demographic factors that are associated with victimisation. For example, ethnic minorities tend, on average, to be younger, of lower socio-economic status, and more often living in higher risk areas". This is an exercise in deliberately missing the point. Certain ethnic minorities - Indians and Chinese, for example - have an average social status which is significantly higher than that of whites, and a crime rate which is approximately half the national average. It is only blacks who are of a significantly lower average social status. And, of course, the Home Office statisticians do not address themselves to the question of why this should be. Blacks certainly do live in higher risk areas. They are higher risk areas for a very good reason.
But then the whole document is an exercise in deliberately missing the point. Almost every civil servant, policeman, judge, prosecutor and journalist is busily missing the point these days, busily pretending that the emperor has got some clothes on, because in Tony's Britain, that's how you keep your job.

The reality of the situation is simply too horrific for liberals to contemplate. Therefore, they choose not to contemplate it, preferring to scapegoat the police, or the judiciary, or the schools, or anyone or anything else, rather than face the facts. Unfortunately, however much we might all wish it, reality will not go away.

John Woods writes from Hertfordshire
* Copies of Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System can be obtained by writing to:
Information & Publications Group,
Room 201, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT.
Telephone: 020 7273 2084 Fax: 020 7222 0211
E-mail: [email protected]
The report can also be obtained from the following web address:

Derek Turner, 37 year old journalist and editor of ..... - That is sadly no longer with us.
An independent, London-based magazine of politics, ideas and culture set up to articulate unfashionable and politically incorrect ideas of all kinds.

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