Racism initiative could be approved

AN INITIATIVE to fight racial harassment in Suffolk's rural communities could be approved this week.Suffolk County Council's executive committee is being asked to back the action plan at its meeting on Thursday.

AN INITIATIVE to fight racial harassment in Suffolk's rural communities could be approved this week.

Suffolk County Council's executive committee is being asked to back the action plan at its meeting on Thursday.

It follows a study, carried out by Leicester University's Scarman Centre, which was instigated by Suffolk's Racial Harassment Initiative, headed by Shammi Jalota, and commissioned by the county council.

The survey found that racial harassment was a regular feature of life in rural Suffolk, particularly for Asians, and half of those interviewed reported harassment in the street, one in three at school and one in four at work or in a shop.


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Mr Jalota said he was pleased there was now documentary evidence of a previously unacknowledged problem as well as a plan to tackle it.

Inspector Terry Byford, Suffolk Police community relations and safety officer, said the plan highlighted that eradicating rural racism was everybody's responsibility. "It's not about perceiving yourself as racist it's about asking yourself what you can do to make that person feel welcome and a part of this community," she said.

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Sam Budu, director of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, said: "I think the problem in Suffolk is that we are not good at selling our services to various groups."

But he also warned: "To be effective ISCRE will need more resources. With one officer it's not possible to offer all the kinds of racial awareness training required."

The plan includes targets for recruiting staff to the police from ethnic minorities, a pilot project for a mediation service in racial harassment cases, more effective monitoring and recording of harassment and using more innovative ways of providing and publicising help and support.

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