Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Massive rise in racist attacks in Inverness

Local newspaper The Inverness Courier carries a report from local police body Northern Constabulary that there has been a dramatic rise of 72.9 per cent in racist attacks in Inverness this year. The main targets of these incidents are English people, with next in line for targetting being Poles, of whom there are significant numbers in and around Inverness in recent years.

There are divergent views about the causes, or even if in fact the seriousness of many of the recent attacks matches their severity twenty years ago. For example, the Courier reports that one Independent councillor (originally from Glasgow, apparently) attributes the anti-English feeling to a rise in 'nationalist' sentiment, whereas Highland Council's London-born leader (and leader of the LibDem group in the Council) says there is no link to SNP sentiment and believes the situation was worse 20 years ago in his personal experience. The SNP group leader insisted there is no place for racism in society.

The police figures reveal that the majority of the perpetrators are Scottish (given the fact this is a city in the north of Scotland, this is to be expected in my view and it would be surprising if it was not the case) and other than Poles the other non-British victims include Pakistanis and mixed race people. Incidentally I would query the use of the word 'racist' to categorise crimes against English residents in Inverness; after all your average English person is racially pretty much the same as your average Scottish person and there has been so much mixing through marriage between all the peoples of these islands over several hundred years that they are to all intents indistinguishable racially I'd have thought. It'd be equally ridiculous, for example, to describe as 'anti-semitic' attacks by an Arab on a Jew as both are semitic peoples.

The rise in these crimes is prompting Northern Constabulary to set up a new 'hate crime' reporting system, which will go live in the new year, and this 'will enable incidents of racism, homophobia and religious conflict to be flagged up to officers anonymously', according to the report. Northern Constabulary's website is here.

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