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The Highland Area
Based on the 1991 Census information, minority ethnic people make up 1.25% of the Scottish population, of these 40% live outside of urban areas. The minority ethnic population in Highland is 0.54%. Approximately 80% live in the Inverness, Caithness and Ross & Cromarty areas, with the highest concentration in Inverness. The predominant groups were those described in the Census classification as "Other", Black and Chinese, who together made up 79% of the Highland minority ethnic population. Other significant groups were Pakistani and Indian populations.
Minority ethnic groups are therefore characterised in the Highlands as small in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of households, diverse in terms of ethnicity, language and culture. However, changing demographics, shifting employment and population patterns, and year-round tourism all result in a range of nationalities living and visiting the Highlands from across the UK, Europe and elsewhere.
Where minority ethnic communities are small in number there can be a perception that "there is no problem here". Research in the Highlands and other rural areas (P de Lima 2001) suggests otherwise. In such situations people encounter isolation, cultural and language barriers and lack support networks. They may also be more likely than their urban counterparts to be victims of racism which can be particularly stressful in these circumstances.
The above research uncovered experiences of racism and discrimination in a range of settings, including in the community, education, work, and in accessing services. The most commonly mentioned discrimination was verbal abuse/name calling. There was little evidence of an infrastructure to provide support for those facing racial harassment and discrimination, and little indication of minority ethnic community involvement in planning services.
The occurrence of reported racist incidents to Northern Constabulary has increased notably in recent years. To some extent this is a direct result of changes in their internal reporting mechanisms following recommendations from the MacPherson Report and its definition of racist incidents. Even taking this into account it is suspected that there is still significant under-reporting of racist incidents.
Between 1 April 2000 and March 31st 2001 eight individuals in Highland reported perceived racial discrimination or harassment to GREC. None of the cases related to employment; all concerned services, some of which were complaints against Highland Council. The majority of racial cases involving the Council concern Education and Housing, again it is suspected that there is significant under-reporting of incidents.
Racism is as much an issue in rural areas and in urban areas, and the legislation applies equally to all ethnic groups in the UK. Discrimination and harassment of English people or Gypsy/Travellers is just as important as against visible ethnic minorities.
Commission for Racial
Manchester University Race Relations
Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations
Fighting Race Hate Sites
Centre for Education for
Institute for Race Relations
European Commission Against Racism
Scottish Refugee Council
Global Cultural Diversity Congress 2000
European Network Online
Black Net UK -Aimed at Afro Caribbeans
Black Britain www.blackbritain.co.uk
Black Interest News Updating