Key Dates In British Racial History


Below are some key dates in British racial history over the past 50 years. Some of these events demonstrate the tension between different communities and/or BAME communities and the State/Public Authorities. Other dates acknowledge attempts in the long journey to promote racial equality within British society.




There was a ‘race ban’ at a Christmas Party held at the Felton Club in Peterborough.



A bus driver from Wolverhampton won the right to wear a turban at work.
Colour and Citizenship: Report on British Race Relations (Institute of Race Relations)




The Immigration Act 1971 became law.



Race Relations Act 1976 became law.


There was a strike at Grunswick Processing Laboratories. This was one of the UK’s most important strikes and lasted nearly 2 years. The strike was an example of solidarity between multi-cultural workers standing up to racism. It was led by Jayaben Desai. The media referred to strikers as strikers in Saris.


Robert Relf was famously imprisoned for a racist ban on the purchase of his home in Royal Leamington Spa.


The Commission for Race Equality was established.


Notting Hill Carnival ended in riots.



The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) threatened to investigate immigration procedures for racial discrimination.



Brixton Riots.


In October 1980, blanket search warrants were issued under the Immigration Act without naming suspects. The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) investigated the immigration service.


Conservatives ‘Monday Club’ offered migrants £4,000-6,000 to “return home.”


The Scarman Report was published on the 25 November 1981. Lord Scarman found unquestionable evidence of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of ‘stop & search’ powers by the police against black people.


The Home Secretary set up Police Unit to monitor racist attacks.

On the 6th November 1981, Shohik Meah died in Thornhill Road Police Station, Birmingham aged 43.


First report on black people in prison, by Director General.


Lord Denning ruled that Sikhs were not a racial or ethnic group under the Race Relations Act 1976. Marches took place in protest against his judgement.


Racial checks at hospitals began.


The Government rejected a proposal to make racism an offence in the Police Force.



Mandala Case acknowledged Sikhs as a race protected under the Race Relations Act 1976.


Metropolitan Police announced that figures of ethnic crimes would not be released this year.


The case of James Ruddock, who died of hypothermia in a police cell, was given a ‘natural causes’ verdict.


The Government planned ethnic monitoring in Job Centre offices.


Police Studies Institute published a report on racism within the London Police.



Protests were held against racism in schools in Bradford.
Former senior Police Race Relations Advisor resigned after public racism scandal.
A Judge ruled that the Jury in a case involving Asian Defendants should be selected exclusively from a local area with a high Asian population.



The first black Bishop was appointed/ His name was Wilfred Wood.


The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) published a report on racist immigration controls.


Inciting racial hatred was introduced as a criminal offence under The Public Orders Act 1986.


Racist attacks were up by 72% in 1985 according to monitoring organisations.
Immigration Officers conducted ‘passport raids’ on central London offices.
Home Office report shows black people were more likely to be jailed and receive longer prison sentences.
Report of Press Council warned that the media were in danger of encouraging racial prejudice.


Stephen Bogle’s died in custody after a lack of care in prison.



A report revealed that Afro-Caribbean men were more likely to be compulsorily detained in psychiatric hospitals than white or Asian men.
The High Court ruled that Local Authorities are not obliged to house homeless families who have recently arrived in Britain.


Gypsies/Travellers were acknowledged as a racial group under the Race Relations Act 1976.


Police raided a black community centre in High Wycombe.
National Association for the Care and Resettlements of Offenders (NACRO) Report revealed that Black Juvenile offenders were more likely to be jailed than white people.
A black soldier takes the British Army to court over racism within the Army.
It was reported that Black people were twice as likely to be unemployed according to the Department of Unemployment.
CRE Reported that Local Authorities were turning a blind eye to racist harassment in schools.
A Staffordshire Neighbourhood Watch leaflet warning people to look out for ‘”sightings of coloured” people were ruled as breaching the Race Relations Act 1976.
It was reported that Black families were four times more likely to become homeless.



According to Home Office figures, there was a significant increase in deportations (up by 50% since 1988). A record 3,050 immigrants were deported.


Racial attacks rose by 60% over 1988 according to figures released by Scotland Yard.


Afro-Caribbean’s were eight times more likely to be sent to prison than white people, according to a Prison Reform Trust report.




On the 8th January 1982, Mark Fletcher, aged 21 (who had been detained under the Mental Health Act) died in All Saints Psychiatric Hospital, Birmingham after being given an injection in his spine.


Arthur Allison aged 50, died four days after being arrested by Leicestershire Police.



On the 22 April 1993 Stephen Lawrence was innocently murdered in a brutal and racially motivated attack. This was one of the highest profile murder cases in British history and took two decades to secure a conviction.



The Macpherson Report was published in February 1999. It accused the Metropolitan Police of institutional racism and made 70 recommendations, many aimed at improving police attitudes to racism. The report also made legislative recommendations to reduce discrimination.


Spencer Weston was only 21 when he died after receiving fatal injuries during a police chase in Leicester. The inquest found that his death was not an accident. His Father stated that Leicestershire Police never took the case seriously. “I feel that from day one our concerns over Spencer’s death have never been properly addressed or answered.” Walcott Hill (Father) Two police investigations 1999 and 2001 failed to discover who assaulted him.




Commission for Racial Equality published a report raising concerns over the proposed introduction of National Identity Cards. This plan was later scrapped.




The Race Relations Act 1976 was superseded by the Equality Act 2010.



The Immigration Act 2014 was introduced.



After the European Referendum result’s there was a significant increase in reports of hate crime, including racially motivated.


The Lammy Report exposed racial bias in the criminal justice system.


The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported that poverty is twice as high within BAME communities.