Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights - anti-racist policy making: review

Findings of a research programme into Scottish race equality strategies since 2000. The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) was commissioned to support the implementation of this review, with a focus on exploring opportunities for better practice.

Community Involvement Findings on Race Equality

Scottish Government/Executive has undertaken several rounds of consultation with minority ethnic communities and community organisations during the review period (1999 – 2020).

This is distinct from in depth processes over longer periods of time involving stakeholders who have specific expertise on race equality (such as the Race Equality Advisory Forum whose influential report was published in 2001). The policy making implications of convening advisory/expert groups for partnership working processes is explored further at Reporting on progress.

Community involvement processes with a reach into grassroots community groups and their members have been conducted to inform some, but not all, national race equality strategies.

Two of the published findings reports from these processes, one from 2003 and the other from 2015, have enough similarity in approach to enable comparison of the different views collected over time.[133]

Both documents had a focus on identifying suggested solutions to racial inequalities in various policy areas, which can be collated to mirror the priority areas within the Race Equality Framework for Scotland.

The following table summarises the proposed solutions in each area.

Solutions proposed through community involvement

Policy area: Community cohesion and safety

Solutions proposed - 2003

  • Increase awareness and provide information on police procedures to enlighten and educate people, for example, shop owners
  • The police should be transparent as to when an incident is being dealt with as a racist incident and when it is not and what difference this makes to procedures
  • Police feedback to communities and development of dialogue especially between the police and local businesses
  • Integration can only occur if majority population understands different cultures, therefore there is a need for education
  • No religious teaching should take place in schools to stop barriers being constructed and differences highlighted
  • Develop a programme to integrate people
  • Alert different groups to different activities and disseminate information
  • Introduce Gypsy/Traveller ways of life into education – for both adults and children – to assist understanding and integration
  • More community organisations for Gypsies/Travellers to act as representatives / advocates
  • A TV media campaign along the lines of HEBS anti-smoking and the Scottish Executive's domestic abuse campaigns to highlight issues of racism and discrimination in Scotland and what it means in the daily lives of people from minority ethnic communities
  • Collaborative work should be developed between minority ethnic traders, the police and local council to protect businesses from racist crimes

Solutions proposed - 2015

  • Enforcing anti-racism policies and procedures at work and in other areas
  • Keeping racism on the political agenda, and ensuring public bodies tackle discrimination and racism
  • Awareness raising campaigns about racism in Scotland
  • Tackling negative stereotyping within the media
  • Addressing intolerant attitudes in the white majority ethnic community
  • More integration focussed community activities and community learning, e.g. cultural awareness programmes and events
  • Funding for effective community cohesion projects, which should be monitored and evaluated
  • Work that involves both minority ethnic and white communities, is led by local people and engages people on a local, grassroots level
  • Community centres run by minority ethnic groups and funded by the government
  • Ending social isolation for minority ethnic groups
  • Tackling anti-social behaviour and street harassment, including through preventative work
  • More visible community policing, improved CCTV, and more community liaison officers
  • Increasing representation of minority ethnic people within Police Scotland, with changes in Police Scotland's organisational culture, recruitment practices, retention rates, promotion practices and accountability to address this
  • Police Scotland working more with minority ethnic groups to improve connections and cultural awareness
  • Ensuring that minority ethnic groups receive equality in their treatment by police
  • Investigating racist incidents more pro-actively and transparently and ensuring that racial aggravation charges are made where appropriate
  • Ensuring that hate crime is appropriately prosecuted, with harsher punishment than currently applied
  • More action to encourage reporting of racism and hate crime, with recognition that poor relationships between police and communities are resulting in under-reporting
  • Establishing an external, independent agency to oversee Police Scotland (similar to PIRC) with minority ethnic representation

Policy area: Participation and representation

Solutions proposed - 2003

  • Equally important is for ethnic groups to understand that it is OK to integrate. Need for awareness raising, support organisations and education of minority ethnic groups. Also need to build confidence of minority ethnic people to feel happy integrating to majority activities and "to feel OK about participating"
  • Wider availability and better funding of minority ethnic women's groups, paying special attention to the needs of girls and older women
  • Greater availability of women only sessions/nights at social and leisure venues to allow women the opportunity to socialise
  • Wider availability of the support offered by organisation to fit in with the hours worked by small traders
  • Recognise institutional racism by mainstream services and make adjustments to understand and meet the needs of people from minority ethnic communities

Solutions proposed - 2015

  • Positive action to remove barriers to participation
  • The introduction of quotas or targets (for participation in decision making structures)
  • Enforcement of equal opportunity in recruitment / selection on to representative structures
  • More recruitment, training and mentoring for potential minority ethnic candidates by political parties
  • Awareness raising to encourage engagement with politics and activism, and more use of political shadowing schemes and other capacity building programmes
  • The formation of a national minority ethnic representative body to engage with communities
  • Minority ethnic groups should be better consulted and engaged in decisions that affect their lives
  • Engagement should be with a variety of minority ethnic groups rather than one community, and should involve a broad range of people including young people
  • Consultations should be more genuine, bespoke, inclusive, informative, and accessible, without using political jargon
  • Post-engagement activities need to be improved, including feedback, taking action on results
  • Support should be provided to empower communities to organise themselves

Policy area: Education and lifelong learning

Solutions proposed - 2003

  • Multi-faith religious education as an essential part of the school curriculum
  • Children having access to language and religious classes at school
  • Multi-faith religious education as an essential part of the school curriculum
  • Cultural awareness training for all teachers and staff
  • Educate everyone at school on cultures and religions to get rid of ignorance
  • Ensure that head teachers are committed to and provide strong leadership for multi-cultural awareness
  • A general curriculum that reflects cultural diversity so making children aware of different diets, religions etc.
  • Increased sensitivity in schools to racially motivated bullying and potential racial elements of bullying
  • Racial elements built into anti-bullying policies in schools
  • Greater recognition and understanding of non UK qualifications
  • English classes taught by tutors from different ethnic groups
  • Increased learning resources made available in different languages
  • Discrimination against Gypsy/Traveller children and lack of recognition of lifestyles
  • Ensure that Gypsy/Traveller children receive at least a basic primary education
  • Offer alternatives to Gypsy/Traveller children to allow increased access e.g. half days, 4 day week, allow children to work with parents

Solutions proposed - 2015

  • Better action to ensure parents and pupils have their voices heard
  • Equality education in all schools, built in through the Curriculum for Excellence and addressing issues of racial inequality, minority ethnic culture and history
  • More opportunities for modern language classes which reflect non-European minority languages
  • More opportunity for minority ethnic children to obtain places at high-performing schools
  • More individualised, holistic support and guidance for minority ethnic pupils and their families
  • Targeted help for those with additional support needs
  • Addressing eligibility issues for school meals and grants which affect some categories of migrants
  • Race equality training for staff
  • Programmes for minority ethnic groups to offer additional support where needed
  • More representation of minority ethnic people in the teaching workforce, including at senior levels
  • More financial support for further and higher education
  • Addressing institutional racism in the school system
  • Action to ensure minority ethnic children do not feel segregated or discriminated against
  • Tackling stereotyping of minority ethnic groups in education and the curriculum
  • Educating pupils and teachers about cultures, race and racism
  • More support for pupils and students facing racism, including schemes to encourage reporting of racist incidents
  • Recognising and dealing with the links between racial inequality and poverty which can affect pupils
  • Ensuring that recent migrant and asylum seeking families understand the education system
  • Improvements in careers advice and support at school for minority ethnic pupils, with a wider variety of options and post-school destinations discussed (for example apprenticeships)
  • Engaging with parents as well as pupils on career paths and post-school destinations
  • Better work experience opportunities for school pupils and young people through work shadowing, placement programmes and internships, and an increase in vocational learning (monitoring take up of all of these for potential inequality or discrimination)
  • For transitions from higher and further education to work, tackling the common problem where minority ethnic graduates are employed in low quality jobs despite being highly qualified
  • English as an Additional Language provision - better access to free classes that are flexible in time and place, family-friendly and provided at an appropriate level (e.g. advanced ESOL for professionals)

Policy area: Employability, employment and income

Solutions proposed - 2003

  • Effective enforcement of race and equal opportunities legislation
  • Challenge employers formally e.g. by using solicitor and making a formal complaint
  • Increase cultural awareness and understanding amongst employers through education e.g. on dress, need for prayer, eye contact and so on
  • Discrimination through ethnic monitoring forms
  • Explain more clearly to job applicants and employees, the value of ethnic monitoring forms
  • Greater recognition and understanding of non-UK qualifications and work experience
  • Educate employers on the processes of gaining a work permit for an employee and make process as easy and quick as possible
  • Make childcare accessible and affordable
  • Better communication and marketing to ethnic groups by organisations providing employment services and support
  • Traders highlighted the need for a change in the attitude of establishments and agencies to minority ethnic communities, especially financial institutions, the DTI, LECs and local authorities. It was felt that progress could not be made until attitudes changed. These agencies are seen to have very 'protective attitudes'
  • Inform wider audience of (business and enterprise) support available, using minority ethnic press
  • Raise awareness of benefits and entitlements in different languages and through local organisations and press
  • Somebody or an organisation to advocate on the behalf of minority ethnic communities and to help them become more aware of citizenship and (welfare) rights

Solutions proposed - 2015

  • Better enforcement of the Equality Act 2010
  • Tackling pay discrimination and occupational segregation for minority ethnic workers (in both occupation and seniority / career progression)
  • Equality and diversity / anti-racism training for Scottish companies and organisations
  • Positive action schemes (some also supported legalising positive discrimination)
  • Tackling nepotism in the workplace
  • Tailored employability activities e.g. work shadowing, training, support for under-employed people
  • More access to apprenticeship positions, including for older adults
  • Better recognition of overseas professional and educational qualifications
  • Representation of minority ethnic people within shortlisting and interview processes
  • Anonymous applications
  • Quotas and targets
  • Improved monitoring and enforcement practices
  • Tighter controls on application bias, including through ending word of mouth and other closed recruitment practices
  • More support for minority ethnic applicants
  • More financial support for small business owners and self-employed minority ethnic people
  • Specialist support for minority ethnic business owners and potential business owners
  • Impact of negative public opinion on opportunities for recent migrants, e.g. media stereotypes
  • Education and advice for migrants on employment opportunities and rights
  • The need to raise employers' awareness about migrants' rights to work
  • Asylum seekers need the right to work

Policy area: Health and home

Solutions proposed - 2003

  • Wider availability of interpreters and interpreting services
  • Note language needs on a patient's records
  • Investigate the possibility of a telephone help and information line which people could phone for general health information and guidance in their own language
  • Investigate potential for 3-way conference calling between patient, clinician and interpreter. This is currently used by London police
  • Extend GP appointment times to take into account people with language barriers who need to use an interpreter
  • Preference to see doctor from same background to overcome language and cultural barriers
  • Wider advertisement of interpreting services to increase awareness amongst minority ethnic groups
  • Increase awareness of interpreting services amongst health staff
  • Increase awareness of how to use interpreting service amongst health staff and minority ethnic groups to ensure health staff share the responsibility of organising an interpreter
  • Interpreting service set up to be responsive so they can be contacted quickly in an emergency
  • Increased awareness of interpreting services
  • Ensuring health staff share the responsibility of organising a formal interpreter
  • Educating staff that it is not adequate for informal or impromptu interpreters to be used
  • Train interpreters to interpret medical and sensitive information
  • Combine interpreting services with advocacy and support services
  • Health care professionals in all sectors to be more culturally aware through education and training and gaining experience of working with people from different minority ethnic communities
  • Challenge what was seen as institutional racism in council housing departments i.e. practice of placing minority ethnic groups in most deprived areas
  • Positive action to ensure that minority ethnic groups are not 'segregated' into specific areas
  • More and better located sites for Gypsies/Travellers use with cheaper pitch costs
  • Better access to site management services, for example extended opening hours
  • Greater consistency of site rules across the country
  • Consultation on the location of sites and the facilities required

Solutions proposed - 2015

  • More culturally sensitive services, where practitioners are aware of different needs, experiences and viewpoints (including culturally significant gender issues, practices which could be harmful to health and issues of stigma) across all health and social care services including mental health
  • Involving communities in service planning
  • Increasing diversity among health service workers
  • Improving accessibility of services, including language interpretation and translation
  • Awareness raising about services and health issues, and preventative work with communities
  • Better specialism and research among health practitioners about rare diseases and other health issues that are more prevalent in minority ethnic groups to help narrow health inequalities
  • Ensuring that recent migrants, including asylum seekers, can access services which meet their needs (for example providing an induction process into the healthcare services, consideration of health norms in recent migrants' home countries, access to healthcare for those without leave to remain, specific mental health issues, support for those suffering domestic abuse without recourse to public funds and the NHS surcharge applicable to migrants)
  • Monitoring of all social housing applications to identify whether current methods of housing allocation are ensuring equality or not
  • Better provision of information about housing services for minority ethnic groups
  • Tackling overcrowding where this is causing problems for minority ethnic families (without preventing those who want to from staying together in homes that could be seen as overcrowded)
  • An increase in social housing availability, especially larger style housing which can accommodate those who wish to live in extended family groups for cultural reasons
  • Better housing conditions and property maintenance in social housing
  • Some participants felt that minority ethnic people were disproportionately offered housing in deprived areas, or within specific areas with a concentration of minority ethnic residents, and that these practice should be stopped
  • More Government control and enforcement with regard to the private rental sector, including how properties are advertised, offered for rent and maintained
  • Increasing availability of affordable homes to rent and buy
  • More housing support, advice and schemes to support home ownership
  • Improving provision and awareness of services for minority ethnic people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness
  • Tackling barriers for recent migrants, especially around landlords' perceptions of whether they are legally allowed to reside in Scotland and associated discrimination and around destitution for asylum seekers who have been refused leave to remain

It is evident throughout both reports that the solutions proposed are aiming to deal with the same entrenched racial inequalities, and in some cases those solutions are almost identical.

For example, both groups of consultees recommended:

  • Action to increase transparency in racist incident investigations by the Police
  • Action in the education system to train teachers, tackle racist bullying and diversify the curriculum
  • Better enforcement of equality law in workplaces, access to employment rights advice and removing employment barriers related to migration
  • Improving culturally responsive approaches to healthcare and access to interpretation in healthcare settings
  • Tackling inequalities and discrimination in housing

Despite the clear continuing issues raised by both groups, the focus does shift in terms of where the groups believe solutions lie over time.

The 2003 report has a greater focus on issues affecting new migrants, people requiring translation and interpretation, and cultural awareness. This may be partly as a result of the composition of participants. A total of 196 people from minority ethnic communities participated in the research across 29 focus groups arranged by consultants Blake Stevenson. This was considerably fewer than the number participating in 2015 (just over half). Information given about participant groups suggests that people facing specific migration and language related barriers were likely to be over-represented in comparison to people whose experience of racial inequality is more linked to structural racism.

The 2015 report, meanwhile, has a commensurately greater focus on structural and institutional solutions. In this case, 389 participants were involved through peer-led focus groups with trained community facilitators nominated by grassroots community groups.

The involvement mechanism may also have played a part in creating differences in suggested solutions; although both exercises were undertaken through focus groups, the 2015 model required members of each focus group to agree on a set of solutions to put forward. This potentially strengthened the focus on practical and targeted solutions, as 'fringe' views and concerns related to factors other than race were filtered out (preventing, for example, the situation seen in 2003 where conflicting recommendations said that no religious education should be given in schools at one section, and that more religious education should be given in schools at other sections).

As previously mentioned, the results of involvement exercises are not always reflected in action taken subsequently. Its impact is unclear, especially as progress reporting focuses on involvement having been carried out as opposed to what changed as a result. The 2015 process, on the other hand, resulted in the visions and goals of the resulting Race Equality Framework 2016-2030 being developed directly based on the results of involvement. The findings report was published in sections matching the layout of the Framework, enabling direct comparison between community members' views and the resulting policy commitments.

Whilst it is outwith the remit of this review to research the full range of involvement processes, this merits further consideration. There is a need to address concerns within the race equality sector (particularly for less policy-orientated organisations) regarding the impact, meaningfulness and appropriateness of involvement mechanisms. Consultation fatigue, lack of resourcing for policy engagement, burn-out due to competing demands and the emotional labour involved in revisiting experiences of racism are all factors which require consideration.

Although less often explored, there are implications for policy makers undertaking involvement too, including the emotional toll of 'running two scripts' when required to act simultaneously as professional policy makers and with empathy regarding issues they may have limited personal ability to make decisions about.[134]

Further discussion of the challenges policy makers face in interpreting and responding to views put forward by stakeholders is explored within the section on identifying solutions.

Scottish Government may want to consider ways to strengthen approaches to involvement.

  • Working with race equality stakeholders to develop shared principles on the involvement of minority ethnic communities and those who represent their interests
  • Assessing the extent to which involvement with race equality stakeholders meets the National Standards for Community Engagement
  • Reviewing the outcomes of previous minority ethnic engagement in consultation and involvement in order to address possible weaknesses in practice within policy making which may be limiting its influence
  • Identifying and addressing any capacity building needs amongst civil servants responsible for engaging and involving race equality stakeholders



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