Ethnic Tensions ‘Could Lead To Violence’

Graeme Wilson, London Telegraph, June 14, 2007

Ethnic tensions could escalate into violence in market towns and rural areas following waves of immigration from eastern Europe, an official report warns today.

The Government’s Commission on Integration and Cohesion will argue that the recent scale of migration has been “unsettling” for many communities and causes “tensions”.

It calls for fresh thinking to tackle the “new and complex challenges” many places are facing. One proposal is that councils should do more to identify “hot spots” and respond with “local contracts” telling newcomers “what is and is not acceptable behaviour”.

In a break with decades of multiculturalism, councils will be told to stop funding groups that cater only for people of one religion, nationality or race.

They will also be advised to cut the amount they spend on translating leaflets and information into different languages and use the money saved to encourage newcomers to learn English.

The report will say that immigrants should be given “cultural briefing packs” when they move to the UK.

The packs would include information about how to fit into a British way of life. The packs may include advice ranging from explaining the British way of queueing in shops and the fact that spitting in the street is not socially acceptable.

“Things like that sound very simple but can drive members of the settled community barmy—when it might be that new arrivals just don’t know about things like that,” the report will say.

The commission was set up last year by Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary.

Darra Singh, the commission chairman, is expected to say: “We have to recognise that there are communities who are experiencing migration in a way they haven’t before and that can be unsettling.

“This can raise real challenges in different parts of the country about how we promote integration and ensure we have strong and united communities.”

He will add: “Whilst there is no cause for alarm, there is a clear case for action.

“Our report sets out the challenges and the practical steps that everyone—individuals, organisations, local and national government—can take to overcome them and work towards developing our shared future.”

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