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19 April 2023

More than a third of people from minority groups in the UK have experienced racist assaults, survey finds

Racism and racial discrimination in the UK are insidiousness and persistent, according to new research co-produced by King’s.

End racism protest sign

A major new survey of racism and ethnic inequalities, the Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS), reveals the extent of racism and racial discrimination experienced by people from ethnic and religious minority groups in Britain.

The racism reported by the survey’s respondents took different forms – physical, verbal or damage to property – and happened in all areas of life including education, work and when looking for housing.

Overall, almost one in six respondents had experienced a racially motivated physical assault, but over a third of people identifying as Gypsy/Traveller, Roma or Other Black reported that they had been physically assaulted because of their ethnicity, race, colour, or religion.

More than a quarter had been verbally abused or insulted because of their ethnicity, race, colour or religion, and 17% reported experiencing damage to their personal property. Nearly a third reported racial discrimination in education and employment, and nearly a fifth reported racial discrimination when looking for housing.

Co-produced by King’s, the University of Manchester and the University of St Andrews, the survey was carried out by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). It is the largest and most comprehensive survey for over 25 years to document the lives of ethnic and religious minorities in the UK and offers fresh insights into their experiences during the pandemic too.

“The EVENS survey allows us to obtain a deeper understanding of the insidiousness and persistence of racial discrimination in the UK,” said Professor Laia Bécares, Professor of Social Science and Health in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine.  

We clearly document that there is a high level of racism in the UK which permeates all aspects of people’s everyday lives and impacts their health, wellbeing, and socioeconomic circumstances.

Professor Laia Bécares, Professor of Social Science and Health

Dr Dharmi Kapadia, University of Manchester, said: “[…] tackling racism is not just a case of merely removing ‘bad apples’ from workplaces and institutions such as the Metropolitan Police – we need to seriously transform the policies and procedures that enable racist discrimination to persist, in order to ensure better outcome and life chances for ethnic and religious minority people.”

Data collection took place between February and November 2021, when people were asked about their experiences before the pandemic, and separately, about their experiences since the beginning of the pandemic.

EVENS has a sample of 14,200 participants, of whom 9,700 identify as members of ethnic and religious minority groups, uniquely allowing comparative analyses of their experiences.

Other findings include:

  • Racial discrimination in education was reported by around half of those who identified as Roma, Any Other Black, Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Caribbean, with 44% of Gypsy/Traveller respondents saying the same.
  • Some ethnic groups also reported high rates of discrimination from the police, including over a third of people from the Black Caribbean, Any Other Black, Roma and Gypsy/Traveller groups.
  • Between 40-50% of people from Black Caribbean, Any Other Black, and White and Black Caribbean groups reported facing racist abuse while out shopping, in parks, cafes or restaurants or on public transport.
  • Almost one in six people also experienced racial discrimination from their neighbours, but this rose to one in two Other Black people and one in three Gypsy/Traveller people.
  • During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese, Other Asian and Eastern European people reported an increase in experiences of racial discrimination relative to other ethnic minority groups, and some ethnic groups reported increased policing during the first year of the pandemic – one in three Gypsy/Traveller people, and one in five Roma and Chinese people had been stopped by the police in this period.

EVENS was supported by the Economics and Social Research Council (ES/V013475/1 and ES/ W000849/1). It was produced in partnership with 13 voluntary, community and social enterprise groups.

Results from EVENS are available in a new book Racism and Inequality in a Time of Crisis: Findings from the Evidence for Equality National Survey available in print, e-book and free pdf. The full dataset will be made available in May.

The book of the survey findings and the full dataset cover a wide range of topics including housing, employment, identity and politics, health and socioeconomic circumstances.

In this story

Laia Becares

Professor of Social Science and Health