GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS TARGET GYPSIES AND TRAVELLERS

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles that he is proposing new planning powers to give local authorities the right to issue unlimited fines and stop notices to Gypsies and Travellers and the appointment of Brandon Lewis as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DCLG with responsibilities for Travellers, JUST West Yorkshire has written to seek clarification on the government’s position.

We have distributed the correspondence sent to Eric Pickles MP and Brandon Lewis MP to Gypsy and Traveller organisations nationally and regionally and have invited them to write directly to express their concerns about the proposed draconian legislation and the failure to include Gypsies as part of the ministerial brief.

To read the letter to Eic Pickles MP follow the link: Proposed new planning powers targeting Gypsy and Traveller communities

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Following JUST’s press release issued yesterday calling for the censure of Calderdale Councillor Roger Taylor the matter is being investigated by the Standards Committee.

Following JUST West Yorkshire’s Press and Media release yesterday calling for the censure of Councillor Roger Taylor of Northowram and Shelf ward in Calderdale (see attached), JUST is pleased that Calderdale Council have taken our concerns around the Councillor’s inappropriate behaviour seriously.

The statement issued to us by the Leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift highlights the fact that they consider Councillor Taylor’s comments “unpleasant, unacceptable and ill-judged” and his reference to the Hillsborough tragedy as “grave and serious.”

Statement from Calderdale Council Leader Tim Swift:

“Cllr Taylor’s comments about the Hillsborough report are unacceptable, ignoring the very grave and serious issues raised by the report, and are completely insensitive to the views and feelings of the many families who were touched by this tragedy and are still waiting for justice.

“Many of his other reported comments are equally unpleasant, unacceptable and ill-judged.

“I am certain that the majority – and hopefully the overwhelming majority – of the councillors in Calderdale will completely repudiate his views, which are totally at odds with the values of Calderdale.

“I have been assured that there will be a formal investigation by the Standards Committee, but there is a more immediate issue for the Conservative group who now need to decide whether Cllr Taylor’s views are consistent with his continuing as a Conservative councillor.”

For more on this follow the link:Councillor Roger Taylor to be investigated by the Standards Committee and Calderdale Councillor labels Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a “joke”

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Calderdale Conservative Councillor Roger Taylor labels Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a “joke” and dismisses the findings of the Hillsborough Report as “overloaded with politically correct language.”

 On 16th September 2012, JUST West Yorkshire received an email from Conservative Councillor Roger Taylor who represents the Northowram and Shelf ward in Calderdale. The email was in response to an article published by JUST West Yorkshire on 13th September 2012 in which we supported the Hillsborough families’ call for the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettison to resign and face criminal prosecution.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel uncovered that victims’ families had been denied justice for 23 years because police officers had lied and the Report also highlighted that 41 victims could have been saved. JUST published its statement in response to the findings that key witness evidence had been doctored and victims had been unjustly blamed for the tragedy. Councillor Taylor’s reference to the Hillsborough findings as “overloaded with politically correct language” demeans the memories of victims who died in this tragedy.

Below is a copy of Mr. Taylor’s email to JUST, which raises serious questions over his role as an elected representative. There are standards of public decorum and codes of conduct that councillors should observe (see footnote). JUST has been receiving offensive emails from Councillor Taylor since the 8th August 2011 that have been racist and Islampahobic in their tone and content. They have included statements like:

“Most acts of terrorism are committed by Muslims. I agree there are many minor “terrorist” groups but they don’t worry me just as much.”

 “We know the vast number of vile and hatred riddled rioters were black or non-white.”

For more on this follow the link: Calderdale Councillor labels Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a “joke”

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE SUPPORTS HILLSBORUGH FAMILILES’ CALL FOR THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE TO RESIGN AND FACE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

Following the recently published Hillsborough disaster Report by an independent panel, families of the 96 Liverpool fans who tragically lost their lives have called for Sir Norman Bettison, the current Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police to resign. JUST is calling for his knighthood to be stripped with immediate effect and criminal prosecution pursued in response to the emerging evidence around his role in what is being described as the ‘biggest cover-up in history’. [1]

We condemn Norman Bettison’s statement issued on 13 September, 2012 on the West Yorkshire Police website in which he continues to blame victims behaviour for the tragedy.

“Fans behaviour to the extent that it was relevant at all made the job of the police in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles harder than it needed to be.”

Reacting to his statement Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, said: “Quite frankly I am quite angry about it and I think he should resign. He is still saying the fans made the job more difficult for the police. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Do the decent thing Mr Bettison-resign.”

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, also piled more pressure on Sir Norman by saying ‘It would not be right for serving officers to stay in post,’ while MPs suggested he should be stripped of his knighthood and Prime Minister David Cameron refused to give his backing to the chief constable.

For more on this follow the link: CALL FOR THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE TO RESIGN AND FACE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

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Disability hate crime is at its highest level since records began

Following JUST West Yorkshire’s report last week on the failure of West Yorkshire Police’s reporting arrangements relating to Hate Incident Reporting Centres, the latest figures now show a 488% increase in disability hate crime in our region.  The data from a Freedom of Information request strengthens JUST’s call for an urgent review of reporting arrangements for victims of ALL hate crime. We are still awaiting for a response from the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police calling for an urgent review.

“The latest figures demonstrate that West Yorkshire’s Hate Crime arrangements are not fit for purpose across the board.  Hate Crime kills, maims, and does irreparable harm to victims.  We repeat our call to the Chief Constable to urgently review present reporting arrangements in the light of these shocking figures.  The fact that there were only 18 convictions out of a total 147 disability hate crimes recorded does not inspire confidence in the prevention, detection and reporting of disability hate crime”.
Ratna Lachman Director JUST West Yorkshire

In 2011 the number of recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales rose to 1,942, its highest total since records began. Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Guardian newspaper shows the number of recorded incidents grew by 60% between 2009 and 2011.

For more on this follow the link: Disability hate crime is at its highest level since records began

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE CALLS ON THE UK GOVERNMENT TO DROP THE PROPOSED LAW TO SPY ON EMAIL, WEB AND INTERNET PHONE USE 

The British Government is proposing new legislation which would allow the police and secret services to monitor internet users’ email and web activity including every single email, text message, and phone call flowing through the whole country.

The proposal is a massive encroachment on privacy and has many security risks and potential for further abuse. Internal ICO papers, marked restricted, say the Orwellian plan could lead to the innocent being wrongly identified as criminals or terrorists and barred from flying.

Although the proposed measure highlights one of its key benefits as the ability to track pedophiles, the recent example of a former police officer with West Yorkshire police who was convicted of making indecent images of children, highlights that in the wrong hands, these powers carry a grave risk to the individual.

Please see the attached document to read JUST’s full position statement and written submissions on the Draft Communications Data Bill. 

Attachments: Position Statement and Written Submission

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RACE HATE CRIME REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS IN WEST YORKSHIRE ARE LETTING DOWN VICTIMS OF RACE AND RELIGIOUS HATE CRIME

“I am deeply concerned to find that West Yorkshire Police continue to distribute leaflets within their police stations of third-party reporting centres which no longer exist especially in view of the findings of our investigation which were published several weeks ago.  We will continue pursuing the matter with West Yorkshire Police and its partners as access to justice by victims of hate crime is a fundamental human right.”

Ratna Lachman, Director of JUST West Yorkshire

JUST West Yorkshire’s Follow-up Investigation into Third-Party Reporting Centres

On 13th June 2012 we reported our findings in relation to designated Third-Party Reporting Centres listed by West Yorkshire Police on their website to allow victims and/or the wider public to report race/hate incidents. Our investigation revealed a lack of trained staff, lack of information and knowledge by those taking calls, out of date information and a lack of communication between West Yorkshire Police and ‘designated’ hate crime reporting centres.

Following our investigation West Yorkshire Police issued a statement to the BBC:
“We take hate incidents extremely seriously and on the issue of third-party reporting centres we are working in partnership with the local authorities to review them and will be updating our internet sites as soon as practicably possible. As part of this review each reporting centre is being asked to consider whether to publish their contact telephone numbers as it was never the intention that the Centres would be used to receive telephone reports.” 

For more on this follow the link: JUST’s findings on Hate Incident Reporting Centre’s in West Yorkshire

Attachments: Letter to Norman Bettison and JUST’s Research Findings on Hate Incident Reporting Centre’s in West Yorkshire

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WHILE STOP AND SEARCH FIGURES DISPROPORTIONATELY TARGET MINORITY COMMUNITIES, RACE HATE CRIME REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS IN WEST YORKSHIRE ARE LETTING DOWN VICTIMS OF RACE AND RELIGIOUS HATE CRIME

“I am deeply concerned to discover the extremely low arrest, detection and prosecution rates for racially and religiously aggravated crimes in West Yorkshire. I am further concerned to discover that the police call centre staff I spoke to as part of our investigation was unaware of third party reporting centres for hate crime in West Yorkshire.  Having managed to obtain details of third-party reporting centres listed on the West Yorkshire Police website, JUST West Yorkshire discovered that many either did not exist any longer, were out of date, had no contact numbers, and were not in fact reporting centres.  This raises serious issues of a police force out of touch with its community and partners.  Ultimately the impact on victims is exacerbated by such complacency.  JUST calls on West Yorkshire Police to undertake an urgent review of its current arrangements and to provide an up to date list of third party reporting centres that are fit for purpose.”
Ratna Lachman – Director – Just West Yorkshire

The release of the latest data on the disproportionate stop and search figures targeting minority communities highlights that institutional racism continues to define police practice. Twelve years on from the publication of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report it is clear that many of the recommendations relating to addressing disproportionality in stop and search practices have been sidelined.

The latest figures on stop and search highlight that of the over 37,000 stop and searches undertaken in West Yorkshire in the last 12 months (to the end of January 2012) almost 16,000 (42%) of these were undertaken under the Misuse of Drugs Act.  The breakdown by ethnicity reveals that over one third of people stopped (i.e.37%) were from an ethnic background.  When analysed against the denominator of ethnic group populations, Asian people are almost 4 times more likely (3.8) to be stopped and searched than a white person using this power, whilst black people are almost 7 times more likely to be stop and searched than a white person (6.8).  This is more than double the rate reported for searches under Section 1 of the Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), (a search power which allows police officers to stop and search a person or vehicle for stolen or prohibited articles. The power can only be exercised if the office has “reasonable grounds” for suspicion)

For more on this follow the link: Reporting Race Hate Crimes- The West Yorkshire Experience

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BRADFORD WEST BY-ELECTIONS HUSTINGS 2012: POST BY-ELECTIONS ANALYSIS

On 21 March, 2012, approximately 300 people representing a broad cross-section of the electorate attended the Bradford West by elections hustings organized by JUST West Yorkshire, Bradford Muslim Women’s Council, University of Bradford Student’s Union and Bradford College Student’s Union.

RESPONSE TO THE REFUSAL OF LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES TO ATTEND THE BY-ELECTION HUSTINGS

The failure of the Labour candidate Imran Hussain and the Conservative candidate, Jackie Whiteley to attend the event, attracted over seventy-seven adverse comments from attendees who were given the opportunity to register their feedback to the two absent candidates. The unanimous view of the meeting was that democracy had been undermined and voters right to make an informed choice had been taken from them. The organisers have sent the comments to the respective parties for their information.

For more on this follow the link: Bradford West By-Elections Hustings 2012- Post By-Elections Analysis

Attachment: Q&A summary points

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ARE LABOUR AND THE CONSERVATIVES RUNNING SCARED OF FACING THE ELECTORATE IN THE BRADFORD WEST BY-ELECTIONS PUBLIC DEBATE?

The failure of Labour and Conservative prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs), Imran Hussain and Jackie Whiteley to present themselves at the by-election hustings in Bradford West demonstrates a disdain for the democratic process, say the organisers the Bradford Muslim Women’s Council, the University of Bradford Students Union, Bradford College Students’ Union and JUST West Yorkshire. The retiring MP Marsha Singh, and all the PPCs standing in the 2010 general elections attended the Bradford West by-elections hustings and engaged in a robust debate with the electorate on key priorities for the constituency.

Students at Bradford University and Bradford College are particularly angry at the failure of the Labour and Conservative PPCs to respect the democratic process by giving the electorate a chance to vote based on the candidates’ position on issues which impact on local communities.

Nabeel Hussain, the President of the Bradford College student’s union said, “Our college students are incensed that the Labour and Conservative candidates have shown so little respect for young people. The withdrawal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the rise in university fees has had a devastating impact on many of our young people who are mostly home students. Many of them are voting for the first time and the Conservative’s policies have had a detrimental impact on their life chances. The failure of both the Labour and Conservative parties to give first-time voters an opportunity to genuinely engage in democracy accounts for much of the cynicism that has infected the political process.”

For more on this follow the link: Are Labour and the Conservatives running scared of facing the electorate in a public debate?

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JUST West Yorkshire’s response to the ‘Make Bradford British’ Channel 4 Programme and the Coalition Government’s Integration Policy

Making Bradford British versus the Pickled Politics of Integration

The broadcast of the Making Bradford British programme by Channel 4, coming a week after the announcement of the Coalition’s Integration policy by Eric Pickles, should prompt the government to return to the drawing board. The programme has highlighted the tenuous basis on which the government’s community cohesion policy has been constructed, as the attribution of the phrase “living parallel and separated lives” exclusively to Muslim communities is no longer a tenable proposition. The programme has clearly highlighted that White communities from both affluent and inner-city White neighbourhoods are also equally segregated.

JUST has been consistently arguing that the cohesion policy is deeply flawed as it represents an atavistic throwback to a village green, motherhood and apple pie vision of England, which is far removed from the reality of 21st century multi-cultural Britain.  Over the last 3 years – far away from the political posturing of politicians seeking the high ground of populist votes – JUST has been arguing that good race relations is a two-way street. Its youth projects in Bradford and Kirklees, which seek to bridge divides between Muslim and White youth, have highlighted the difficulties of engaging White communities in inter-cultural activities and dialogue. The government’s inflamed political rhetoric around immigration, extremism and terrorism are implicated in institutionalising many of these community divides.

For more on this follow the link: Making Bradford British versus the Pickled Politics of Integration

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JUST calls for an Urgent Inquiry into the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission (IPCC)           

Two members of a group set up to ensure community confidence in the investigation of the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham have resigned, following reports of losing confidence in the Inquiry set up by the IPCC. The row centre’s around the role of the IPCC in authorizing the removal of key evidence related to the investigation. The taxi Duggan had been travelling in was taken away from the scene by police just after the shooting despite it containing “evidence of major significance”.

For more on this follow the link: JUST Calls for an Urgent Inquiry into the IPCC

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JUST West Yorkshire call on the Coalition Government to develop a clear time table for adopting the recommendations made by the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination

JUST West Yorkshire welcomes the publication of the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination’s “Concluding Observations of the UK 18th-20th Periodical Report” on Thursday 1st September 2011. The Report heavily criticizes the UKs failure to address racial equality and calls on the Government to address its failings as a matter of urgency.

For more on this follow the link: JUST calls on Coalition to develop time table for adopting recommendations made by UN CERD

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 UN to be told that UK is Failing to Deliver on Race Equality by UK NGOs

JUST West Yorkshire will be joining a group of charities as part of a delegation to the United Nations in Geneva to present a Report on the government’s lack of action on race inequality. UK NGOs Against Racism have produced a Report which they will be presenting to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, criticising the government’s record to date on the issue.

For more on this follow the link: UN to be UK is failing to deliver on race equality

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 The Big Broken Society: Reflections on the Tottenham and Northern Riots

Commentary following the outbreak of violence in Tottenham this weekend has already fallen into the tropes familiar to those with experience of other outbreaks of anger from local communities such as those that occurred during the 2001 Northern Disturbances. The focus of press coverage and political reaction – both Labour and Conservative – has been to condemn the weekends events as ‘organised violence’ and ‘wanton thuggery’ perpetrated by ‘criminal elements’ who exploited anarchy on the streets to engage in an orgy of looting. However, whilst no one would wish to condone looting, burning and attacks on the police, it is also the case that focussing on the easy targets – the so-called ‘feral youths’ with their hoodies and face masks – avoids the harder questions the riots raise about the culpability of government policy.

For more on this follow the link: The Broken Big Society

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Countering Radicalization in British Universities and Colleges: a response by JUST West Yorkshire’s Young Radicals Project           

The news that Leeds and Bradford have been earmarked as among the 25 top priority areas that will receive targeted funding to tackle extremism was widely anticipated as 3 of the 4 London bombers came from Leeds and Bradford is home to the third largest Pakistani Muslim community nationally.

For more on this follow the link: Countering Radicalization in British Universities and Colleges

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Extremist till proven Moderate

 Ironically on the very day that the Coalition government announced its revision of the Prevent strategy to counter radicalisation, the Report from its own independent reviewer challenges the government narrative that Prevent monies have been used to fund extremist groups. Lord Carlisle’s Review also concludes that there has beenno systematic attempt to recruit or radicalise people in universities and full time education. Hence the Home Office Minister Teresa May’s declaration that the government’s Prevent strategy will launchan unyielding fight against extremism…. use smart engagement… a ruthless determination to find and punish those who promote or take to violence” points to a government intent on building policy on the basis of ideological flourishes rather than hard evidence and fact.

For more on this follow the link: Extremist till proven Moderate

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Bradford Disturbances: 10 Years On

A decade following the Bradford disturbances, a commemorative conference organised by a number of Bradford-based organizations will assess the legacy of those momentous events for the city and consider the impact of government policy on race relation and civil liberties for the intervening years.

For more on this follow the link: Bradford Disturbances 10 Years On

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE CALLS ON WEST YORKSHIRE MPs TO SUPPORT THE EARLY DAY MOTION (EDM) ON RESTORING FUNDING FOR ENGLISH FOR SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES (ESOL) PROVISION

JUST West Yorkshire supports the MP for Sheffield Central, Paul Blomfield’s call for the Coalition government to restore funding for ESOL classes. Thus far none of the West Yorkshire MPs have signed the EDM and we strongly urge ALL MPs and especially those representing constituencies with BME, migrant, asylum, refugee and other communities to sign the motion below.

For more on this follow the link: JUST calls on MPs to support the EDM on ESOL

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PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS IN WEST YORSKSHIRE: THE IMPACT ON THE BME THIRD SECTOR

There are deep fears that lack of transparency around the decisions about cuts could lead to further inequalities for BME communities.

As the region, gears up for swingeing public service cuts voluntary and community organisations across West Yorkshire will meet to assess the impact of these cuts on the long-term viability of the Third sector and their capacity to deliver services to vulnerable, disadvantaged and poor communities.

For more on this follow the link: Public Service Cuts Impact on the BME Sector

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JUST WEST YORKSHIREʼS RESPONSE TO THE COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW

The announcement of swingeing public service cuts announced by George Osborne in todayʼs Comprehensive Spending Review sends a devastating message to the Third sector. With the CLG Minister, Eric Pickles, offering up one of the largest budgetary cuts in his department, his decision will ring the death knell of many frontline organizations providing essential support services to poor, disadvantaged and excluded communities.

To read more of this follow the link: Response to the Comprehensive Spending Review

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE’S RESPONSE TO THE CHIEF CONSTABLE NORMAN BETTISON’S CALL FOR A BAN ON THE EDL MARCH.

JUST West Yorkshire welcomes the decision by the Chief Constable to apply to Bradford Council for an order prohibiting the English Defence League from holding a public procession in Bradford. The jubilation at the prospect of an EDL ban is however likely to short-lived as the EDL will almost certainly apply to hold a static protest in the full knowledge that neither the Chief Constable Norman Bettison, Bradford Council nor the Home Secretary can prevent their them from coming to Bradford.

For more on this follow the link: Chief Constables call for a ban on the EDL march

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JUSTICE 4 PC KASH CAMPAIGN           

The Monitoring Group (TMG) and JUST West Yorkshire are supporting the JUSTICE4PCKASH Campaign. We have grave concerns regarding the conduct of the West Yorkshire Police’s investigation into PC Kashif Ahmed’s case. The case has taken over 2 years to come to court after considerable delays and the nature of the investigation has been protracted and disproportionate even though there is no evidence to state he has done anything wrong.

  • Kashif Ahmed has been interviewed more times than a serial killer
  • He was called a terrorist by his supervisor for carrying a rucksack
  • He was asked to get a bacon roll by his supervisor during Ramadan
  • He declined an unofficial request to spy on Muslims in a mosque
  • His car was towed away from the private police car park
  • He was investigated by officers he had complained about

For more on this follow the link: Justice4PCKash

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BRADFORD WEST VOTERS TO QUIZ CANDIDATES IN AN ELECTIONS THAT IS POISED ON A KNIFE-EDGE

The outcome of the elections in Bradford West is going to be one of the closest fought electoral battles in the constituency’s elections history. Nationally Bradford West is one of the top key marginals where the BME vote is likely to have a decisive influence on whether Labour wins the next elections.

In order to help voters decide who should represent them in Parliament, JUST West Yorkshire together with their coalition partners Operation Black Vote, Equanomics UK and the 1990 Trust have organised an Elections Hustings in Bradford West to give voters the opportunity to question party candidates and hear first hand their vision for the Bradford district and the constituency.

For more on this follow the link: Bradford West Voters to Quiz Candidates

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West Yorkshire Police Implicated in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s Review on the Indiscriminate use of Stop and Search Powers Against BME Communities.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s Review into 42 policing areas during the past five years has highlighted that racial stereotyping and discrimination are significant factors behind the higher rates of stops and searches for Black and Asian people than White people. The Report entitled: Stop and Think, has highlighted that the stop and search figures for West Yorkshire’s Black population is twice that of White communities – 78 per 1000 compared to 38 per 1000. In terms of stop and search relating to Asians, 2356 were stopped and searched, ranking West Yorkshire third after London and West Midlands (1).

For more on this follow the link: Indiscriminate use of Stop and Search Powers Against BME Communities.

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Loss of faith in the democratic process responsible for British National Party’s successes in the European elections

The results of the European elections is a calamity for the Yorkshire and Humber region. The election of the BNP was only possible because the electorate who have been traditional supporters of the 3 mainstream parties did not turn up to vote. The loss of faith in the democratic process is a key challenge for our times. Those who voted for the far right cannot be won over by either Labour or Conservative lurching further to the right to appease right-wing voters as the recent European election results have clearly shown.

The argument and fight for democracy has to be taken to the streets – by councillors, activists and those who are committed to building a peaceful society. The implementation of legislation which has led to the attrition of our civil rights has resulted in both the intellectual and physical spaces for legitimate dissent being squeezed. Activism and protests by civil society are not a threat to democracy but its assets because they serve as a critical barometer of public opinion.

For more on this follow the link: JUST’s response to the election of the BNP

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A QUESTION OF RIGHTS: DEFENDING YOUTH RIGHTS – A GROUND-BREAKING EVENT ORGANISED BY YOUNG PEOPLE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

For the first time in the region, young people from across West Yorkshire have come together to organise a ground-breaking event that will explore the impact of the attrition of civil liberties and human rights on young people’s freedoms and liberties. Over 450 young people from schools, colleges, universities and youth clubs across the region will be attending one of the biggest youth-led events in the region at Savilles Hall, Leeds Armouries International Conference Centre.

For more on this follow the link: Defending Youth Rights

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GOVERNMENT’S REPORT ON THE PREVENT STRATEGY HIGHLIGHTS JUST WEST YORKSHIRE’S CRITICISM THAT IT DISPROPORTIONATELY ‘MALIGNS’ THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY

The government’s Inquiry into the Prevent programme, published this week agrees with JUST West Yorkshire’s written statement and oral evidence to the Inquiry that the programme has undermined community cohesion.

Select Committee chairman Phyllis Starkey said: “We believe a targeted strategy must address the contemporary Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist threat, but we do not believe a Government department charged with promoting cohesive communities should take a leading role in this counter- terrorism initiative.

For more on this follow the link: JUST’s Criticism on the Prevent Strategy

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JUST West Yorkshire is the only organisation in the Yorkshire and Humber region that has been invited to give evidence to the Communities and Local Government’s Inquiry into Prevent

On the 21st of July the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee published a press notice announcing they will be undertaking an inquiry into ‘Prevent’, the Government’s programme for preventing violent extremism.

JUST West Yorkshire made its submission and has consequently been invited to appear before the CLG Committee to give oral evidence on Preventing Violent Extremism on Monday 30th November 2009.

As a racial justice, civil liberties and human rights organisation, JUST has argued for the programme to be withdrawn as it wrongly criminalises and demonises the region’s Muslim communities.

For more on this follow the link: JUST to give evidence to Communities and Local Government’s Inquiry into Prevent

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE’S RESPONSE TO THE COMMUNITY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S CALL FOR EVIDENCE TO THE INQUIRY ON THE PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM PROGRAMME

JUST has long been campaigning against the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda which is part of The UK’s ‘CONTEST 2’ strategy for Combating International Terrorism.

JUST’s objections to the Prevent programme are based on the following grounds:

  • It has led to the disproportionate criminalisation of BME and particularly Muslim communities
  • It locates the burden for fighting terrorism on the Muslim community despite the fact that the majority are peace-loving citizens of the UK.
  • The current usage of the terminology of violent extremism is discriminatory as it ignores the very real threats from far-right and other forms of extremism.
  • It has drawn statutory bodies into the ‘securitisation’ agenda thereby dismantling the traditional relationships of trust and confidence between public bodies and service users.
  • It has led to the abandonment of funding for traditional community development, capacity building and empowerment work with BME communities, replacing it instead with community cohesion, anti-extremism and anti-terrorism approaches which have put Muslim communities under the intense spotlight of the far right and the press and media.
  • It reinforces negative stereotypes and associations of Islam with terrorism and views the British Muslim community through the single issue of terrorism

For more on this follow the link: JUST position statement on PVE Inquiry

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JUST West Yorkshire’s response to West Yorkshire Police violence against Fit Watch Campaigners.

JUST West Yorkshire, a racial justice, civil liberties and human rights organisation condemns the actions of the West Yorkshire police which led to 2 peaceful protestors being subject to police violence and arrest after challenging police officers over their failure to display their badge numbers.

The disturbing video footage of 4 constables from the West Yorkshire Police bundling 2 female protestors protesting at the Kingsnorth power station in Kent is a travesty of justice and the rights of British citizens to protest peacefully. The response is reminiscent of the thuggery and mindless use of violence which the police are quick to clamp down on in the guise of tackling anti-social behaviour.

For more on this follow the link: JUSTs response to Police violence against Fit Watch Campaigners