Great Britain

Not all members of ethnic minorities are immigrants, and not all immigrants are members of ethnic minorities.

Great Britain has had a diverse population for many centuries. This began as early as the Roman empire, and further developed later in parallel with the history of the so-called British World Empire. The British World Empire contained many colonies, and otherwise occupied areas. This diversity has also partially resulted from complex migration flows.

Black people reached Britain early on through British participation in the enslavement of West African people, as well as through the Atlantic triangular trade with British goods. In the 16th century, Sinti people of the European mainland immigrated. In the 17th century people were recruited as seafarers from occupied territories in South Asia and prevented from returning, this lead to East Asian population growth in Europe. During the 19th century, many German, and Russian Jews immigrated.

On the battlegrounds of World War I soldiers from South Asia fought on the British side. After the war some of these soldiers stayed in Britain, but most returned to their country of origin. After the Second World War, some colonies and British occupied territories gained independence. These colonies however, still remained organized among the commonwealth. Citizens of the Commonwealth Countries had special rights to immigration, especially during periods in which immigrant labor force was economically needed. Many people came from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya, and Hong Kong.  Later however, the immigration policy was tightened, and this complicated immigration.

According to the UK census of 2011, 87.1 % of the population is composed of a white majority, and 12.9 % of an ethnic minority. Approximately 7 % of the population is Asian or Asian-British, 3 % Black or Black British, and 0.9 % belongs to a different ethnic group. In the 2011 census, the category ‘mixed’ was newly introduced, which was chosen by 2 % of the population. The census also showed that 11.9 % of the population was born abroad. In 2010, most of the immigrats came from India, Poland, Pakistan, Ireland and Germany.

A few decades ago racial discrimination was a part of everyday life in the UK. In 1965 a law forbade discrimination based on skin color, but only in 1976 did the circumstances really improve. In 2001, public institutions were obliged to check their policies to see whether they were conducive to equal treatment, or not.Positive measures are being increasingly introduced, and they should continual to do so. Therefore, data will be collected according to general principles. For the census, and labour market equality and participation data are collected. Reporting forms now available for ‘stop & search’ should make the practice of racial profiling visible through the inclusion of  a field on ethnic origin, such as ‘race’ of the controlled person.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2018