Disparities in the health of England’s ethnic minority communities, their experience of the criminal justice system and their chances in education have worsened over the past five years, according to a leading race relations charity.
The report, published on Wednesday by the Runnymede Trust, called on the government urgently to review its strategy for tackling racial discrimination and ensure its policies fully complied with the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
People from minority ethnic communities continued to experience “stark disproportionate outcomes” in their life chances, Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, said.
The report, based on contributions from more than 100 civil society groups, will form part of the UK’s submissions to the next review of the country’s performance under the ICERD.
It concluded that the UK was in breach of important articles of the convention and pointed to a series of statistics, including that police use of stop and search powers was increasing and that black people were nine times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts.
The report found that people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities were nearly three years behind their white counterparts in educational attainment by the end of secondary school.
It said health disparities were worsening and pointed out that black men were 3.3 times more likely than their white counterparts to die during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK government said the country had made “significant progress” on equality issues and had gone beyond the commitments it made when ICERD last reviewed its status in 2015.
“The Runnymede Trust’s shadow report . . . is too simplistic in saying that structural or systemic racism is driving all the disparities outlined in their report,” it said.
The findings come after controversy over the racial abuse directed at black England footballers following the side’s defeat in the final of the Euro 2020 football championship on Sunday.
Tyrone Mings, a black member of the squad, on Monday attacked home secretary Priti Patel’s stance on the issue, criticising her for having stoked the fire of discord by the team’s “taking the knee” protest over racial injustice as “gesture politics”.
Begum said race had become a “needlessly fractious issue” in the national discourse.
“Many members of our black and minority ethnic communities continue to experience stark disproportionate outcomes in their life chances,” she said.
The report’s view of the continuing problems around racism contrasts with that expressed in March by the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which concluded that issues other than race were most important in shaping people’s life chances.
Runnymede expressed concern that minority ethnic communities would suffer disproportionately as a result of three pieces of legislation currently going through parliament.
The legislation included the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could strengthen police stop and search powers; the planned Electoral Integrity Bill, which will require people to show identification before voting; and the Nationality and Borders Bill to create a two-tiered asylum system, with migrants who arrive in the UK without permission receiving weaker protection than those admitted via official routes.
“This report provides further evidence that taking a colour-blind approach to equality will not be the most effective way to achieve social mobility,” Begum said.