Civitas calls on councils to take ‘more muscular’ approach to integration

In a report, Civitas has urged local authorities to take on a ‘more muscular’ approach to managing ethnic and religious diversity.

The study, entitled Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, warned that a ‘laissez-faire’ approach to differences in communities could risk allowing the country to ‘sleepwalk into catastrophe’. The report argues that a reluctance to accept certain values and practices exhibited by some groups could challenge integration and has led to a complacent approach to encouraging unification.

The report’s author, ex-equalities chief Trevor Phillips, commented: “The typical response of Britain’s political and media elite confronted with awkward facts has been evasion, because – we say – talking about these issues won’t solve the problem; instead, it will stigmatise vulnerable minority groups.

“Any attempt to ask whether aspects of minority disadvantage may be self-inflicted is denounced as ‘blaming the victim’. Instead, we prefer to answer any difficult questions by focusing on the historic prejudices of the dominant majority.

“It is my view that the British tradition of ‘organic’ integration no longer meets the needs of our society. To continue to pursue it will lead to division and conflict, and undermine both equality and solidarity. In place of our laissez-faire attitude to integration, I believe we need something more directive and more muscular.”

The report recommends that there should be a duty placed on institutions to promote integration and convergence of behaviour among staff. Schools should also be required to demonstrate they are providing pupils with an adequate experience of the diversity of society. Furthermore, councils should publish annual measures of residential segregation, which could become a formal consideration in decisions about new developments.