Sunday, March 16, 2008

"It’s the perception of the victims ..."

It's the (reported) police response to these two stories that's illuminating :

Luton, like other enclaves, has experienced a spate of incidents that look all too like attempts to make Bury Park a no-go area to non-Muslims. Between November of last year and last month there were 18 attacks – all registered by the police – on five non-Muslim homes in the area. One couple, Mr and Mrs Harrop, white residents in their eighties, have had bricks hurled through their windows. The home of Mrs Palmer, a widow of West Indian origin, aged 70, has been attacked four times; on one occasion a metal beer keg crashed through her bay window while she was watching TV ...

DCI Ian Middleton of Bedfordshire police says: “It’s the perception of the victims that their Muslim neighbours are to blame, and we have to respect that. But we have our doubts.

Nick Tolson, a former police officer who set up the National Churchwatch safety scheme, said that there had been an increase in faith hate attacks on clergy.

“The harassment is usually coming from young Asian men – often, but not exclusively, Muslim,” he said. “The police and prosecutors will classify an attack on a mosque or Muslim as a hate crime but not if it is a church or a vicar. These aren’t targeted attacks, they are spontaneous, but [the victims] are being singled out because of their faith and should be dealt with in the same way as other members of the community.”

There seems to be a common theme in these stories - one from Luton and one about the attack on a priest in Whitechapel/Tower Hamlets area.

Would that it weren't so, but the default police position seems to be :

Attack on a mosque or attack by white on brown/black - hate crime.

Attack on a church or attack by brown/black on white - crime.

The most obvious proof of this is in checking the initial reporting of racist attacks - which usually takes its cue from the police. The attacks on Anthony Walker, Stephen Lawrence, Kalan Karim, Christopher Alaneme were all declared as racist long before anyone was arrested or brought to trial (and in court only the first two were actually found to be racially motivated).

In contrast, the killings of Ross Parker, Kriss Donald, Isiah Young-Sam - and the serious assault on John Payne - were only declared racist at trial and verdict time. In none of these case did the police declare the attack racist.

It would be interesting if anyone has time, to analyse the 73 BBC news pages for "racist attack" and get a more scientific handle on the initial police responses. I can find only one case where the police declared an attack on a native to be racist "early doors" - and that's when an Englishman was attacked by a Scot.