Tower Hamlets commission calls for 'radical steps' to tackle racism

Cllr Asma Begum

Deputy mayor Asma Begum is chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Inequalities Commission. - Credit: Mike Brooke

"Radical steps” must be taken to dismantle structural racism and make Tower Hamlets an anti-racist borough in the next four years, a report has found.

Tower Hamlets Council set up its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Inequalities Commission last year following the killing of George Floyd in the USA, which led to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

The committee aimed to hear about people’s lived experience, work with institutions to prioritise race equality and influence those who have significant influence on Tower Hamlets in the development of policy, strategy practices and allocation of resources.

Its report was launched on March 18, noting a number of steps have to be taken to eradicate racism by 2025.

It found underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in senior roles is “a major issue” in the borough, despite many young people from those backgrounds achieving excellent qualifications.

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It also reported many people of colour have had negative experiences with healthcare, including inadequate communication and a burden to prove their legal right to services.

The commission suggests Tower Hamlets should ask all major local organisations to commit to the anti-racist pledge by the end of 2021.

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A Race Equality Network is also proposed, which will ensure local companies keep to agreed diversity targets.

Commission chair and deputy mayor Asma Begum said: “After such an intense period of listening to the lived experiences of many local people and organisations, I’m delighted that we can now share this significant report which commits us very clearly to going much further and faster towards racial equality and opportunities for all.

“This report reflects those personal lived experiences people shared and a wealth of evidence submitted by expert witnesses. I look forward to us working with partners to deliver on the recommendations and make the borough a fairer place.”

Mayor John Biggs added: “The report clearly sets out an ambitious set of targets we need to act on, working together to deliver lasting change.

"Tower Hamlets has a proud history of fighting racism and this report sets ambitious targets to make us an anti-racist borough."

View the report at

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