While the number of ethnic minority people in Devon has grown in recent years, the numbers are still relatively low and fluctuate with patterns in migration (although it must be stressed that not all ethnic minority people are recent migrants or have parents who were migrants).
Sometimes decisions can be made, and actions taken, which unintentionally affect certain groups of people in a negative way, this is often because of a lack of understanding of the needs and aspirations of minority communities, sometimes resulting from prejudice and stereotyping. The result may lead to a lack of opportunity, difficulty in accessing services or a failure to have a need identified. This was the main finding of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry which changed the shape of equality law and defined ‘institutional racism’.
We want to avoid institutional racism alongside all forms of institutional discrimination. Our community is becoming increasingly diverse and like other public authorities, we are here to serve all the people of Devon – from all cultures, national and ethnic backgrounds.
We have an advisory forum called Excellence Not Excuses, made up of staff and community representatives with experience and expertise around cultural diversity and race equality. In addition, we have supported the setting up of Grapevine – an online social networking and consultation opportunity for people from different cultures living in Devon. The Council also has a dedicated Gypsy and Traveller Liason Service.