The five-year anti-racism strategy expected to be endorsed by City of York Council’s ruling Executive tomorrow aims to make York the ‘first city in the North of England to be anti-racist and inclusive’.

It was developed by York-based campaign group Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK) in partnership with academics from the Institute for Social Justice at York St John University.

IERUK pulled together data from the city council, schools, higher education, the police, healthcare, social care, housing, government agencies and the private sector in York when putting together the strategy.

Academics from York St John University then conducted a qualitative study of people’s interactions with health, education, and policing services.

Haddy Njie, Chair of IERUK, said: “The data widely documents that racism in York is casual, systemic, and structural.”

Among the findings of the report are that:

  • 13.6 per cent of York’s population are from are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. This includes white non-British communities, such as Travellers, Eastern Europeans and white Irish people
  • Just 6.3 per cent of the city council’s 2,600-strong workforce are from BAME communities
  • Every single one of the council’s 47 elected councillors are white  
  • data on stop and search from the police showed that black people were 90 times mpore likely to be involved in stop and search incidents than white people in York in the three years from 2018 and 2020. Asian or Asian British people were 18 times more likely to be stopped than white people
  • the number of racial hate crimes reported in York rose from 150 in 2019 to 230 in 2021 – an increase of more than 50 per cent in two years.

Haddy said: “The findings documented ...give a clear indication of the structural inequalities in York that are disproportionately affecting people from ethnic minorities.”

One national tabloid challenged IERUK’s figures on the grounds that its definition of BAME communities included white people who were not British – and that the non-white population of York was more like 7.2 per cent.

But Haddy insisted that the definition of BAME included non-British white communities such as Travellers and Eastern Europeans. She said IERUK had made this clear from the outset – and that all these groups could face discrimination.

As well as documenting the ways in which members of the BAME community are disadvantaged, the anti-racism strategy also includes a series of clear recommendations for tackling inequality in the city, covering everything from stop and search to recruitment by the city council.

If the strategy is agreed by the council’s Executive tomorrow (and then by the next Full Council meeting) council leader Claire Douglas will also sign an anti-racism pledge.

This will commit the council to being an ‘anti-racist organisation’ and to

  • Analyse staff data to understand barriers to BAME employees
  • Set targets to increase representation of BAME employees

Cllr Douglas agreed that it was also important that all political parties in the city do more to try to ‘engage people from BAME backgrounds in the political process’ so as to try to ensure that in future the elected councillors more truly represented the make-up of the city’s population as a whole.