On Friday 18 year old Anthony Walker was murdered in Liverpool, in an disgusting and unprovoked racist attack like the ones that killed 15 year old Kriss Donald and 17 year old Ross Parker.
The murder of Anthony Walker was the main or second item on BBC Radio Four News all Saturday. It was the second item on BBC Television news last night, after the terrorist arrests. High profile coverage continued this morning.
The murders of Kriss Donald and Ross Parker didn't ever make BBC Radio or television news. I'm an avid Radio Four listener and I've never heard Ross Parker's name. The Today programme had one report on the trial of Kriss Donald's murderers and the trial was also mentioned on the PM programme.
The Kriss Donald killing was notable for the horrific and premeditated nature of the attack, the Ross Parker murder because it occurred 10 days after September 11th, when the BBC, Guardian and Independent had all antennae alert for a 'backlash' by Native Brits against innocent Muslims. A racist murder of a Native Brit by Muslims ? Sorry - I can't hear you. On the day Ross Parker was killed this is what the BBC were reporting.
It could perhaps be argued that the remarkable disproportion between the coverage of racist murders where the victim is white (minimal coverage) and non-white (major coverage extending in some cases over years) reflects the severity of the problem. Perhaps black and Asian people are being murdered much more often than white.
The Home Office figures (table 3.6) don't seem to bear this out. Over three years 2001-2004 there were 38 homicides of blacks, 28 of Asians, and 22 of 'other' where the principal suspect was white. For blacks the figures were 87 homicides of whites, 12 of Asians, 11 'other', for Asians 37 homicides of whites, 7 of blacks and 6 of 'other', for 'other' 29 homicides of whites, 4 balck, one Asian.
This kind of data is notoriously difficult to analyse, because of the geographical distribution of ethnic groups. For example, if 95% of the white population lived in areas where they never saw a black or Asian person, it would be unfair to conclude that zero racist murder in those areas equalled zero propensity to racist murder.
But what they can show is conclusively is that in all murders which could POTENTIALLY be racist, white people are over-represented in the victim class and correspondingly under-represented in the 'principal suspect' class. You would never know that if you listened to the BBC.
UPDATE - Who else but the Pub Philosopher also comments. And I'd just like to say that I've no objection to the amount of air that the Anthony Walker case is getting. I'd just like to see all all murders getting that kind of coverage - even if the victim's white. Long ago, when murders were half or a third of todays levels, the BBC reported them all on national news. It would be interesting to know when and by whom the decision was taken to stop this.