COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT News Release (062) issued by The Government News Network
on 29 March 2007
Race and Faith
Minister Phil Woolas today pledged to step up action to eradicate
antisemitism in a report strongly condemning the increase in
incidents in the UK. Today's response forms part of a
comprehensive cross-government strategy to tackle faith and race
The response to the all-party enquiry into antisemitism outlines
new work to:
* improve recording and reporting of antisemitic incidents;
review and strengthen the prosecution process;
work to confront extremist groups who spread hate;
community cohesion through education about different faiths;
prevent any manifestation of racial or religious intolerance on
Ministers recognise and share the Jewish community's
concerns about a rise in antisemitism in the UK and across Europe,
and are using this report to underline the importance of society
coming together to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to
antisemitism. Measures outlined in the response are on top of
legislation introduced since 1997 to protect people from
discrimination on the basis of faith at work and in their day to
Phil Woolas said:
"We will not tolerate racially motivated crime of any kind.
We share the concerns of Jewish communities, and fully support the
police and prosecuting authorities in taking a tough line to stamp
out antisemitism wherever it occurs.
"We have one of the strongest legal frameworks in the world
to protect people from discrimination or persecution on the
grounds of their faith or race, and this was strengthened by the
introduction of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act last year.
"The Government shares the Jewish community's concerns
over recent manifestations of antisemitism. Apart from what may be
criminal acts, I am concerned about the tone of the general
discourse. Open and public debate is one thing, but rhetoric and
an undercurrent of hate and racism is quite another. This is not acceptable.
"I believe local communities are at the heart of the battle
to eliminate all forms of hate crime, and my department is driving
this agenda forward by supporting local projects that tackle
prejudice and discrimination. A local approach will help reach
directly into communities and will bring people from different
faiths and cultures together to understand their differences and
celebrate their shared experiences.
"There is no room for complacency and we are committed to
accelerating action to eliminate antisemitism alongside any other
form of racism."
Commenting on the Government's response, Chair of the
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, John Mann said:
"I am encouraged that the Government are taking the scourge
of antisemitism seriously and I look forward to working with them
to confront it head on. We must not allow this alarming rise in
incidents and hostility to go unchecked."
The report published today outlines the following action points
the Government is taking forward:
Improving the recording and reporting of antisemitic incidents
* The Home Office is now working with the police to identify,
nationally, better and more consistent ways of collecting and
managing data on hate crimes including antisemitic incidents and
crimes. This should be in place by 2008-09.
* Local Crime and Disorder Partnerships are encouraged to make it
easier for victims and witnesses to report hate crime. Home
Office are piloting a 24-hour helpline to encourage people to
report in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.
Increasing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system
* The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is looking at the reasons
for antisemitic incidents not resulting in prosecution, and will
examine incitement to racial hatred prosecutions. The CPS is
currently working with criminal justice system partners on how
best to take these recommendations forward.
Confronting the threat from extremist groups
* Communities and Local Government is working with local
partners, providing them with support in tackling extremist
messages of all kinds. This includes working with local
government leadership on their communication strategies, myth
busting, conflict resolution, and building relationships between
communities that support the values of tolerance and multiculturalism.
Task force to tackle and prevent hate crime
* A cross-Government team is now working on tackling and
preventing hate crime, including antisemitism, jointly chaired by
the Home Office, and Communities and Local Government. The key
objectives are to drive work to increase reporting, increase the
effectiveness of the criminal justice system and other agencies in
tackling hate crime, increase confidence in the ability of the
Criminal Justice System, develop better use of intelligence and
improve the data on the nature and extent of hate crimes. This
team will also consider prevention and community activity.
Promoting community cohesion
* Communities and Local Government has two major funding streams
that deal with hate crime and promoting good community relations.
The £18m Connecting Community Plus grant scheme offers grants over
a three year period to projects tackling racism and inequality.
The £5m Faith Capacity Building Fund supports faith and interfaith
organisations to strengthen their capacity to play a fuller part
in civil society. It also supports inter faith activities, which
bring together people from different faith groups to talk, network
and learn from one another.
* Ruth Kelly has asked the Commission on Integration and
Cohesion, an independent advisory group reporting in June 2007, to
consider practical and local solutions to building shared values
in communities, and to developing resilience to tensions within communities.
* The Government aims to ensure the establishment of interfaith
forums in all English upper tier authorities. We are targeting
support to local interfaith activity with the aim of tackling
faith hate crime and creating trust and understanding between
different faith groups.
* The Government is working with the Board of Deputies and Muslim
groups to consider how best to improve Jewish-Muslim dialogue at
national, regional and local levels. Communities and Local
Government has supported a Rabbi/Imam event and the first national
conference for Muslim and Jewish women.
* A new single equalities body, the Commission for Equality and
Human Rights, will become operational in Autumn 2007. It will
provide a powerful, authoritative, single voice on equality and
human rights and play a legal role enforcing equalities
legislation. The body will work to ensure that organisations and
individuals have access to clear and understandable information in
order to foster debate, tackle issues early and encourage a change
of culture within institutions.
Education and school twinning
* Government has pledged £1.5 million to the Holocaust
Educational Trust (established in 1988) to educate young people
from every ethnic background about the Holocaust. The funding
facilitates visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
for more than 6,000 students. The Government supports the
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, with an annual grant of £500,000.
* New guidance for schools to promote community cohesion as a
duty under the 2006 Education Act will recommend twinning as a way
of promoting cross-cultural understanding. This will come into
effect in September 2007.
Preventing racist incidents on university campuses
* A recent publication from the Department for Education and
Skills, Guidance for Higher Education providers to help Tackle
Violent Extremism in the name of Islam on Campus, provides
universities and colleges with a practical tool to assist students
and staff to increase community cohesion and tackle violent
extremism on campuses.
Notes to Editors
1. The full Government response to the Report of the All-Party
Parliamentary Inquiry into antisemitism can be read online at http://www.communities.gov.uk
2. The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into antisemitism was
established in November 2005 to investigate the nature and extent
of contemporary antisemitism and make recommendations about
addressing this problem. A full copy of the report together with
the hearing transcripts and a sample of written evidence received
by the panel is available on request or online at: http://www.thepcaa.org.uk
3. The inquiry was conducted by a panel of 14 MPs, representing
four different parties, and chaired by Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP.
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