Nearly half of all victims of racially motivated murders in Britain are white
The data, released under Freedom of Information legislation, shows that between 1995 and 2004 there have been 58 murders where the police consider a racial element played a key part. Out of these, 24 have been where the murder victim was white.
The disclosure will add to the intense debate over multiculturalism in British society. The figures also overturn the assumption that almost all racial murders are committed against ethnic minority victims.
Senior police officers have admitted that 'political correctness' and the fear of discussing the issue have meant that race crime against white people goes under-reported. One chief constable has claimed that white, working-class men are more alienated than the Muslim community.
Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Cheshire and a spokesman on race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was a fact that it was harder to get the media interested where murder victims were young white men.
'The political correctness and reluctance to discuss these things absolutely does play a factor', he said. 'A lot of police officers and other professions feel almost the best thing to do is try and avoid it for fear of being criticised. We probably have all got ourselves into a bit of state about this.
'The difficulty in the police service is that the whole thing is being closed down because we are all afraid of discussing any of it in case we say the wrong thing - and that is not healthy.'
Racial violence in Britain has become the subject of intense scrutiny since the public inquiry in 1999 into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Most of the high-profile cases of hate crime have been focused on young blacks, including Damilola Taylor and more recently Anthony Walker, who was murdered with an axe at a Liverpool bus stop by white youths.
Yet these latest official figures give the most complete picture of racially motivated murders in the UK, revealing the situation to be much more complex. In March 2004 a white Scottish teenager, Kriss Donald, was bundled into a car while walking in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow. He was later beaten, stabbed 13 times, and set on fire. British Pakistani Daanish Zahid was found guilty by unanimous verdict of the charges of racially aggravated murder.
In the same year Christopher Yates, 30, a white man, was beaten to death in an assault by a group of drunken Asian youths as he walked home in Barking, east London.
Politicians and the authorities often face difficulty in raising the issue of racial attacks on white victims for fear that far-right extremists will try to exploit such events to stir up racial tensions.
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