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Mon 6 July 2020
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From childbirth to deaths in custody, homelessness and mental health, Stephen Colegrave shows how the UK is not “one of the best countries in the world to be a black person” – as the Government claims

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Too many people in Britain are complacent about racism in this country.

Having watched the protests over the killing of George Floyd across the US, they will comfort themselves that this is an American issue and that the UK has progressed to become a much fairer multicultural society. After all, since 2010, the Equalities Act has meant that direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment is illegal. 

But the data tells a very different story. And until outcomes for black people change, we cannot say that we live in a just society.

Definitions of the black population change with each source used in this article. Some differentiate between Black Caribbean, Black African and Black Other. Wherever possible the figures have been aggregated unless stated. 


FACT 1: CHILDBIRTH

Black mothers were five times more likely to die in pregnancy than white mothers, between 2014 and 2016 according to the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths.


FACT 2: LIFE EXPECTANCY

Black people have a lower life expectancy because more of them live in areas of deprivation compared to the general population.

In its 2017 report, Public Health Outcomes Framework: Health Equity Report, Public Health England found that men living in the most deprived areas had 9.2 years less life expectancy than those from the least deprived. Women had their life expectancy reduced by 7.1 years. Both had a ‘healthy life’ expectancy gap of 20 years. The same report noted that: “Adults in the overall Black group have a significantly worse level of low satisfaction with life. But adults in the Black ethnic group are significantly less likely to smoke and account for a lower level of alcohol-related hospital admissions.”


FACT 3: MENTAL HEALTH

Black people are more than three times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act


FACT 4: EDUCATION

From their early years, black people do not have the same life chances as the rest of the population.

White students aged 16-18 are twice as likely (11.0% versus 5.1%) as their fellow black students to achieve 3 A grades at ‘A’ Level.

Black Caribbean pupils were nearly twice as likely to be excluded as white pupils (10.2% compared to 5.2%) in the academic year 2016/17 and three times more likely to be permanently excluded. 


FACT 5: EMPLOYMENT

Wherever you look across society this yawning gap in the lives of the black and white population reveals itself.

In 2018, black people had the highest unemployment rate of any ethnicity at 9% – more than twice the white population at 4%. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that, in 2018, only 66.9% of the black population was employed, versus 76.4% of the white population. 


FACT 6: EARNINGS

Even when they are employed, black people do not earn as much as others.

In London in 2018, ethnic minorities earned 21.7% less than the rest of the population.  In the same year, the Resolution Foundation found that, overall, 1.9 million black and ethnic minority workers are paid about £3.2 billion less than their white counterparts every year.   


FACT 7: HOMELESSNESS

Black people are much more likely to be homeless.

In 2017-18, black households were more than five times more likely to be designated as ‘statutory homeless’ in England. At the other end of the scale, in 2016-17, 73% of the white population were homeowners versus only 68% of the black population.


FACT 8: VICTIMS OF CRIME

Black Caribbeans believe that they are more than 50% more likely to be a victim of crime in the next year compared to white people (28% versus 18%).


FACT 9: POLICE STOP AND SEARCH

Black people are nearly 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people, according to the Government’s own statistics.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 38 stop and searches per 1,000 black people, compared to four per 1,000 white people. 


FACT 10: ARRESTS

Black people are three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested than white people. Black women are twice as likely to be arrested than white women.


FACT 11: PRISON

Black people serve prison sentences which are 50% longer than those for white people. In 2017, the average length of sentence for a young black adult was 28 months, compared to 19 months for a young white adult.

Young black defendants are twice as likely to be denied bail.


FACT 12: DEATHS IN CUSTODY

Nearly a third of all police custody deaths in the past two years involving were of black people, according to a review into deaths in police custody by the Independent Office of Police Conduct


Action not Just Data

Why do these huge gaps in outcomes still exist in 2020, running through the whole of society?

These racial inequalities are systemic and all of us are ultimately culpable for allowing them to continue. The Equalities Act means nothing if we don’t act to change the real world of inexcusable inequality. 

That most of these statistics are gathered by the Government, begs the question why those in power have done so little to improve them. The Government must stop simply collecting data and actually use it to inform policy and the allocation of budgets – to bring about real change.


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