Wednesday, 18 December 2013

NMP publishes report on community legal observing during the London Olympics

Tthe gloss and spectacle of mega sporting events can hide many potential threats to human rights and equality. Today, on International Migrants Day, we are reminded of one of the starkest examples of this: the pattern of exploitation of migrant workers that has cast a shadow over the preparations for global sports events in recent years. In September 2013, reports emerged of brutality and forced labour in Qatar, which is preparing for the World Cup in 2022. This is one of many instances of exploitation around such events that extend beyond the appalling denial of employment rights. These include the displacement of people from their homes (as witnessed in Rio's favelas in the preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil), unfulfilled promises to create jobs and affordable housing, environmental damage and harassment of working class, black or migrant communities by security officials, enforcement officers and police.

During the 2012 Olympics, Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) set up a human rights observation project in an attempt to monitor, record and challenge any detrimental impact on or targeting of local communities in east London. Today we publish a report setting out in detail how one of the UK's longest-established civil rights organisations deployed close to a hundred 'community legal observers' (CLOs) during last summer's Olympics, what these volunteers witnessed and how the experience of monitoring street level policing during such a major event can help other organisations, both in the UK and abroad, to consider using community legal observers in the future.

'Monitoring Olympics policing during the 2012 Security Games' is available online here or to download here [PDF, 1.1 Mb]

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Newham Council in alleged racism ‘whitewash’ of its Equalities agenda


Independent anti-racist organisation Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) has today accused Newham Council of trying to ‘whitewash’ racism out its Equalities Framework agenda, after viewing a document (see below) that appears to reveal attempts by the council to downplay and remove references to racism reported to them by the public.

NMP reports that the discovery came to light after it downloaded a copy of Newham’s Council’s ‘Equalities and the Local Development Framework in Newham: December 2010’ document, available on Newham Council’s website, on Tuesday 5th November.

Unlike other documents on Newham Council’s website, NMP believes that in error it has been published in a draft form, allowing the public to view the deletions and comments made before being finalised.

NMP claims the series of deletions and comments appear to reveal a pattern of targeting references to racism within the report and attempting to replace them with ambiguous terminology to downplay their significance. Some of the references were reported to them by the public during equalities monitoring and public consultations.

NMP points to two examples in particular, which it claims support their allegations, regarding a youth consultation in 2010, where young people had named racism as a top issue of concern for them:

Example 1

Indeed, a recent corporate survey suggests that some young people at least, continue to have concerns about racism (26% find it an issue of concern, falling within the top 3 issues). [p18]

The ‘editor’ highlights the word racism and comments:

While this issue is of concern I think without wider context of the question this could be misinterpreted. It would be better to say that promoting community cohesion is of concern – as this is something the LDF can influence.

Example 2

In reference to the same youth consultation’s findings later in the report, the same editor deletes the original phrasing:

Significantly, racism is within their top 3 issues facing Newham, just behind crime and the availability of jobs [p21]

And inserts a rephrase deleting the word ‘racism’, replacing it with ‘community cohesion’ and placing it at the end of the sentence thus reducing its emphasis:

Crime, the availability of jobs and issues relating to promoting community cohesion are the top 3 issues facing Newham

A spokesperson for NMP said today:
“The edit mark-up in the Equalities Framework report shows an unmistakeable pattern of downplaying or deleting references to racism. This is an appalling situation, which leads us to only one conclusion: that Newham Council has deliberately and cynically tried to push race off the agenda.

The council has a duty to accurately report levels of inequality in the borough, instead it appears to have attempted to mislead the public by whitewashing the issue of racism. If this is the case, it calls into question the legitimacy of Newham Council’s agenda of recent years following the publication of this document, promoting policies of integration and cohesion as if they had public backing. These policies have been widely criticised locally for avoiding to address and deprioritise pressing issues of racism. They have resulted in a number of moves including the withdrawal of foreign language papers and cuts to translation and interpreting services.

The outcome of this leaves black communities suffering racism without recognition or support and left to spiral downwards, facing greater discrimination and greater levels of marginalisation and deprivation. All communities should rightly be up-in-arms about this if it is proven there has been a calculated approach to undermine the representation of their needs by the public servants elected to represent them.”
The document is also available on Google Docs

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Dr. Richard Stone, one of the panel members on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, will be visiting east London on Wednesday 6th November 2013 as part of his 'Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry'. 

This is a unique opportunity for the public to discuss current concerns about racism in east London, particularly experienced by young people and decide how we can work together to make necessary change. NMP is supporting this event: it is vital the local community knows about this and is well represented, please help us spread the word. 

The event takes place at UEL's Stratford Campus on Water Lane from 6pm to 8.30pm. If you wish to attend this event, booking is essential - please email requesting a registration form and further information.

Newham Monitoring Project © 2012.