Get your own house in order

7 July 2008

PCS equality officer Lorna Campbell reports on the campaign to force government departments to comply with race equality law.

Fifteen years on from Stephen Lawrence’s murder, and seven years since legislation came into force to eradicate institutional racism, at least 15 governments are still failing in their legal duties over race equality.

These departments (see panel) are in breach of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 which provides systematic mechanisms to eradicate the negative impact of institutional racism in the delivery of public services via race equality schemes.

Before being subsumed into the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last year, one of the Commission for Racial Equality’s final acts was to publish a damning report recording how civil service organisations had failed to comply.

To date no enforcement action has been taken by the EHRC. This year race equality schemes are due to be updated and evaluated. Unless effective action is taken, the identified departments and others will continue to break the law.

This has implications for the newly introduced disability and gender equality duties. If the government escapes its race equality liability, it is likely the other public sector equality duties will suffer the same fate.

We are urging members to support the campaign by lobbying their MPs to sign early day motion 1366. We have produced model letters and postcards for members to use.

The aim is to ensure the government takes effective action against the offending departments and to send a clear message to all government departments to adhere to the disability and gender equality duties as well.

Outlaws: The 15 departments in the frame

  • Cabinet Office
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Department for Education and Skills (formerly)
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Trade and Industry (formerly)
  • Department for Transport
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Defence
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Office of Fair Trading
  • Office for National Statistics
  • Forestry Commission

For a model letter to MPs, postcards and more information contact Lorna Campbell:

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