University of Leicester eBulletin

New Research Triggers Action Plan to Tackle Rural Racism

July 2002
No 161

University of Leicester Report on Suffolk also Charts Effects of Racism in Rural and Isolated Areas

A new research report, entitled ‘Tackling the Invisible Problem’ has identified how experiences of racism in rural areas are compounded by a sense of isolation for many minority ethnic groups.

The University of Leicester study, undertaken in Suffolk, discovered that some forms of racism, such as verbal abuse, were commonplace, and also that more serious types of incident, such as physical attacks and damage to property had also been experienced by a substantial number of those included in the research. Some victims of racism also stated that they found rural Suffolk to be an unwelcoming place for minority ethnic groups to live, often because of a perceived lack of support from local agencies.

Criminologists Jon Garland and Neil Chakraborti from the Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, produced a report that makes more than 30 recommendations to local agencies to enhance the services already provided to victims of racism. This has led to renewed efforts to tackle racism in rural Suffolk.

The research, commissioned by Suffolk County Council and partner organisations, examined the effectiveness of the provision of support services to victims of racial harassment by various statutory and voluntary agencies in rural Suffolk. It found that the Council’s Racial Harassment Initiative, a scheme designed to provide support to victims of racial abuse and harassment, was widely appreciated by those victims for the comprehensive help and guidance it gives them following a racist incident.

However, not all of the agencies examined were perceived by victims as providing such effective support, and indeed various agencies were criticised by some victims for being insensitive and unsympathetic to their circumstances.

Jon Garland, Research Fellow, said: “Racism in rural areas can impact greatly upon the lives of minority ethnic families who often feel isolated and think they have no-one to turn to for help. Whilst some agencies, such as the Racial Harassment Initiative, were widely praised for the support they provide to victims of racism, others received a more mixed response”.

Neil Chakraborti, Research Officer, said: “The research findings confirmed what the agencies involved suspected: racism is a problem in rural areas and impacts greatly upon the lives of minority ethnic families and individuals. Our recommendations are now being acted upon and will lead to a multi-agency action plan designed to tackle rural racism in Suffolk”. 

NOTE TO EDITORS: For further information contact:

Jon Garland, Research Fellow, Scarman Centre, on 0116 252 5701 email jgd@le.ac.uk

Neil Chakraborti, Research Officer, Scarman Centre, on 0116 252 5706 email nac5@le.ac.uk

Andy Allsopp, Corporate Communications Manager, Suffolk County Council on 01473 584011, email andy.allsopp@comms.suffolkcc.gov.uk

The report, ‘Tackling the Invisible Problem: An Examination of the Provision of Services to Victims of Racial Harassment in Rural Suffolk’ is available free of charge from Shammi Jalota, Racial Harassment Initiative, Suffolk County Council, Rope Walk, Ipswich IP4 2JP, telephone 01473 584591.

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