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Report Says Racial Inequality Widespread in Britain

A report issued by an independent commission says racial inequality is prevalent in Britain despite progress. Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA from London.

The study by the government-funded Commission for Racial Equality, or CRE, says Britain has remained a place of "inequality, exclusion and isolation." It says that ethnic minorities in Britain are more likely to be stopped by police and excluded from school, get worse health treatment than the majority and live in poorer housing.

But Nick Johnson, the commission's spokesman, says a lot of progress has been made since the panel was set up 30 years ago.

"I think in many cases the Britain of the 1970s is unrecognizable today, the kind of signs you'd see on boarding houses saying no blacks, no Irish, no dogs - the kind of overt racism on the streets that was prevalent then - has gone. However, in too many cases there is still great inequality," he said.

In its final assessment of race relations in Britain before the panel becomes part of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights next month, Johnson described the findings as "very troubling."

He said the government has not followed its own directives calling for more minorities to work in government. While there are more ethnic minorities in government, he said, few of them are in senior positions.

"Most of them are probably cleaners because, while there are large numbers of ethnic minorities in the civil service they are all at the lowest level. Very few succeed to the higher ranks," said Johnson. "The top of the civil service is still predominantly male and very much white."

The CRE singles out 15 government departments as the worst offenders in failing to promote equality.

The report warns the continued inequality is fueling religious and political extremism.