Merton crackdown on race hate crime


A scheme to tackle race-related hate crime in Merton is showing early signs of success.

By Melanie Kramers

A scheme to tackle race-related hate crime in Merton is showing early signs of success as libraries across the borough celebrate diversity in Black History Month.

Caribbean cooking classes and family mask-making sessions are among the activities taking place in libraries to celebrate black culture and heritage throughout October.

There has been one hate attack conviction since the council and police programme, Safer Merton, was launched in June to crack down on intolerance.

The number of hate crimes in the borough decreased to 141 in the 12 months to August 2010 compared to 184 the previous year.

Councillor Edith Macauley, Merton cabinet member for community safety, engagement and equalities, said: “Obviously any hate crime is a problem but I believe Merton is one of the boroughs in London seeing a fall in the number of race crimes, showing the initiatives we have put in place to tackle these issues are working.”

Mark Lawrence, Chief Inspector for Partnership, Merton police, added: “It is tremendously encouraging that the work of Safer Merton has helped reduce hate crime by over 25% in the last twelve months.

“However, we must not be complacent. Hate crime will simply not be tolerated in the borough of Merton.”

A 24-hour localised helpline introduced in July makes it easier for victims of racism to report abuse.

Chief Inspector Lawrence says police are committed to ensuring offenders are brought to justice and victims feel confident about reporting crime.

Councillor Macauley said: “Merton is one of the most diverse London boroughs and has long established migrant communities who are fully integrated.”

She said that while small tensions flared periodically, the majority of people of different races and cultures lived together peacefully.

This community cohesion was particularly evident in primary schools where a high proportion of the children have parents who are recent migrants.

Merton’s census figures show there is greater diversity in the borough’s eastern wards, such as Graveney, where the population is 47% white, 27% Asian, 19% black and 7% mixed race, than the predominantly white Raynes Park. 

“Events like Black History Month help to raise awareness of different cultures and unite communities,” said Councillor Macauley.

For more information on Black History Month events, visit: To report hate crime call 0800 138 1625.

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