Is racial discrimination a widespread problem in Scotland?

Many of Scotland's ethnic minorities said they experienced discrimination. Picture: John DevlinMany of Scotland's ethnic minorities said they experienced discrimination. Picture: John Devlin
Many of Scotland's ethnic minorities said they experienced discrimination. Picture: John Devlin
RECENT research investigated whether ethnic minorities in Scotland had experienced discrimination.

In the last five years , one in three Black and Minority ethnic (BME) Scots have experienced discrimination, a recent study by the University of Strathclyde and polling company Survation found.

A total of 500 BME respondents were surveyed, 35 per cent of which agreed that “discrimination is a widespread problem” in Scotland.

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In total 82 per cent of respondents felt they had experienced discrimination due to their perceived ethnicity compared with 42 per cent who felt they had been discriminated agaisnt because of their religion.

Hate crime in Scotland. Picture: Crown OfficeHate crime in Scotland. Picture: Crown Office
Hate crime in Scotland. Picture: Crown Office

BME Scots reported receiving discrimination through a range of experiences and locations that included ‘getting a job’ (36 per cent), ‘being promoted’ (31 per cent), ‘in education’ (35 per cent) and ‘on public transport’ (35 per cent).

The study found that some ethnic groups were likely to endure higher levels of discrimination than others. Scots with Black African Caribbean heritage expressed the strongest feelings of discrimination, almost half surveyed (45 per cent) stating they had experienced racism. A figure significantly higher than those of Asian heritage (29 percent) and mixed heritage (23 per cent).

The research was led by Strathclyde’s Dr Nasar Meer who said:

“The way we statistically measure experiences of discrimination varies from one survey to another, but this is the first survey that is focused exclusively on BME experiences in Scotland.

“What it shows is that there is clearly a perception of both low-level and more obvious experiences of racial discrimination in Scotland, but also of under-reporting, and much more research is needed to show how and in what ways this may be occurring.

“We certainly know from other fieldwork that racial discrimination occurs across the UK – for example, that BME applicants are less likely to be successful in applying for a job even discounting differences such as age and education. As this survey shows, we cannot assume this is not an issue in Scotland too.”

Dr Meer added:

“There is both good and bad news in this survey. BME groups in Scotland have firmly established themselves in Scottish society; feel a strong attachment to it, and like all groups hold diverse sets of views on what they think Scottish society should be like.

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“Clearly, however, the issue of discrimination is one that cuts across BME experiences and tackling this should be of central importance to policy makers.”

According to data from the Crown Office racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime in Scotland with 3,785 charges reported from 2014-15, a decrease of 9 per cent from the previous year and the lowest number since 2003-04.