HC Deb 08 June 2004 vol 422 c330W
Mr. Hendrick

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers preventing racial harassment have been introduced since 1997; and how many times these powers have been used in Preston. [169693]

Fiona Mactaggart

Prior to 1997 the Race Relations Act (RRA) 1976 already prohibited discrimination on racial grounds. The RRA did not specifically refer to harassment, but it was clear from case law that racial harassment was a type of detriment capable of amounting to the kind of less favourable treatment prohibited by the Act.

As part of its fulfilment of its obligations under the EC Race Directive the UK amended the Race Relations Act 1976 (by virtue of the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003) so as to make it unlawful to harass a person, on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins, in the areas of activity covered by the 1976 Act.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 created new and separate offences where the offences of causing fear and violence or of causing harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act 1986, or the offences of harassment or putting in fear of violence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 were racially aggravated. Figures for the number of prosecutions in Preston for this type of offence are not centrally available. Lancashire police figures for harassment offences (published by the Home Office under the requirements of S95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991) show a total of 717 recorded offences of this type in the Lancashire police area over the period 1999–2000 to 2001–02.