BBC examines racial tension in Bradford
Nine years on from Kick It Out chair Lord Ouseley’s research into racial tension in Bradford, BBC Radio Leeds has reported on how the issue has changed.
The report, published in 2001 just days after the Bradford riots, stated that race certainly was an issue in the city.
Lord Herman Ouseley, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, carried out the initial study. He says the situation in Bradford is unlikely to have improved in just a decade.
He says: “It is a very deep-seated problem and unless you are forcing integration rather than encouraging it, which I think would be undesirable, it would be very difficult to have seen a major turnaround in such a short space of time.”
Dr Paul Thomas from Huddersfield University has done extensive research on community cohesion and bridging the gap between different cultures and used to be a member of the Commission for Racial Equality.
He says: “Segregation is very significant in Bradford and it’s not the only town or city in the country that is like that.”
According to Dr Thomas, Bradford’s white and Asian communities are very different for a number of reasons.
He says: “Asian families are a lot younger and therefore have a lot more children per head of population and so have growing numbers in local schools.
“Much social exclusion is linked to unemployment and that limits the ability of people moving out to more prosperous areas because they simply can’t afford it.
“This is a problem because it goes against the choices that young people want to make. Creating the cohesion is the dilemma.”
Dr Thomas adds: “You can’t make people mix because you get a backlash. If people feel they are being made to get on, it’s not necessarily a positive thing.”
So, nine years on from the publication of the Ouseley report and ten years on from the start of the research for that report, how can the situation be improved and how can Bradford’s communities be brought together to build friendship and reduce prejudice?
An event was held in Bradford recently to try to address these questions. It aimed to highlight the issues that matter to young people and to try to bridge the gap between different races and religions in the city.
Hate crimes, human rights and bullying were all discussed, bringing young people together to talk and to try and avoid conflict.
Dr Thomas believes new investment is now required in Bradford with new jobs meaning people can mix together. However, he fears the economic climate could make things worse.
He says: “If more people are unemployed, people have fewer housing choices. If people aren’t working together then friendships cannot be created.”
And Lord Herman Ouseley believes there is still some way to go, with much of the problem in Bradford today being down to where people live.
He says: “There is no basis on which you can force people to move back to the inner areas where the concentration of Asian Muslim families are because they have exercised their choice and have moved elsewhere.”
Excerpt from BBC News