How racist is the UK compared to other European countries?

Will Taylor
News Reporter
An EU survey commissioned in November shows racist experiences compared between states. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Anti-racism demonstrations have been held across the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Protesters marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter have been taking to the streets in the wake of the 46-year-old’s death.

Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck to pin him to the ground as he pleaded for air.

Protesters say that racism is not confined to the US and a survey released in November by the EU showed nearly one in three people of African descent in 12 member states had experienced racist harassment in the last five years.

The UK was still a part of the EU at the time and was therefore counted as a member state by the body behind the survey, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been held across the UK and drawn attention to racism in the country. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

The survey, Being Black in the EU, found 21% of people of African descent in the UK reported racial harassment in the last five years, the second lowest in the dataset.

Meanwhile, 20% of people in Malta reported the same, the lowest in the set, compared to 63% in Finland, the highest amount.

Across the EU states looked at, just 14% of incidents of racist harassment were reported to police.

The responses were based on weighted results from 5,803 people described as being of African descent from 12 member states.

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Some 5% of the respondents experienced racist violence across all the states, including assault by police officer, and by member state this ranged from 14% in Finland and 13% in Ireland and Austria to 3% in the UK and 2% in Portugal.

Among the member states, an average of 10% of people of African descent had been stopped by police in the last five years and also believed that was due to racial profiling.

Between countries, citizens of Malta and Ireland were less likely to report they were stopped due to racial profiling (5%), with 7% of respondents in the UK saying they had been stopped due to race.

This compares to Austria, where 37% of respondents said they were stopped because of racial profiling, and Italy, where 17% said the same.

Across the states, 39% of the respondents said they felt they had been racially discriminated against within the previous five years, and one in four had felt discriminated against in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The highest perceived rates within those 12 months were in Luxembourg (50%), Finland (45%) and Austria (42%). The lowest were found in the UK (15%) and Portugal (17%).

Just 16% who said they were racially discriminated against reported or made a complaint about the most recent incident.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations have taken place across Europe, including in Berlin. (AP)

Countries where respondents were more likely to report an incident were Finland (30%), Ireland (27%) and Sweden (25%), with the lowest reporting rates in Austria (8%), Portugal and Italy (both 9%).

The survey also looked at what percentage of the respondents were living in “severely deprived housing” compared to the general population.

This was defined as a house that is considered overcrowded and had either a leaking roof, rotting walls or windows, no bath/shower and indoor toilet, or was considered too dark.

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The group average across member states showed 12% of respondents were living in that kind of house, while 84% believed their skin colour or physical appearance to have been the main reason behind their most recent incident of discrimination as they looked for housing.

Some 8% of respondents in the UK were living in a severely deprived house, compared to 2% of the population.

In every member state surveyed, people of African descent were more likely to live in a severely deprived house. In Malta, 29% were, compared to 1% of the general population, in Austria 22% were, compared to 4%, and in Portugal 21% were, compared to 5%.

Some of the findings for some member states in the housing survey were considered “statistically unreliable” due to a small number of respondents. The lowest reliable findings were in Ireland, where 6% lived compared to 1% and 7% in Germany compared to 2% of the general population.

Speaking about the protests, Boris Johnson has said he understands “the very strong and legitimate feelings of people in this country at the death of George Floyd and of course I agree that black lives matter” while Labour leader Keir Starmer has urged him to “turbocharge” the government’s response to racial inequality.

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