CAMPAIGNS: Edinburgh hits out at the racists - Local Government PR

When Edinburgh found itself at the top of Scotland’s league table for racially-motivated incidents last year, the Council decided to take action.

When Edinburgh found itself at the top of Scotland’s league table

for racially-motivated incidents last year, the Council decided to take

action.



Ethnic community groups were requesting a more strategic response to

racism in the city, and the Council felt it needed to convince these

groups and the public that the authorities were handling racist

incidents in an appropriate manner.



Objectives



To inform ethnic minorities that racism will not be tolerated and that

racist incidents will be responded to. To create a hard-hitting

publicity campaign to raise awareness of racism among Edinburgh’s

citizens.



Tactics



The council co-ordinated a forum including Lothian and Borders Police,

Lothian Health, the Chamber of Commerce and anti-racist groups from the

voluntary sector.



The plan was to devise a hard-hitting series of messages and initiatives

aimed at the citizens of Edinburgh, opinion formers, the media and

councillors to get people to consider their own behaviour from a racist

point of view.



The campaign was launched by Secretary of State for Scotland Donald

Dewar through the unveiling of a giant poster showing an Asian man, a

black man and an oriental woman, with the slogan, ’If this is a Paki, a

Darkie and a Chinkie, you’re a racist’, designed by the Leith Agency.

Five thousand copies were distributed across the city with 3,300

leaflets giving information and advice on reducing racial

harassment.



The controversial nature of the ad campaign was exploited to achieve

maximum coverage in local and national press, and all reports of racist

incidents were used to publicise the initiative. A new mechanism was

developed for monitoring and responding to racial incidents on a

multi-agency basis. This was promoted through council newsletters and by

the individual agencies involved.



Talks and presentations were held in the city and councillors held

meetings with the business community and voluntary sector to communicate

the campaign’s message.



Results



The campaign received extensive coverage in the local and national

media, including the Express and Daily Mail, and the issues raised by

the campaign were debated at length. Police have noted a 30 per cent

increase in the number of reported racially-motivated incidents, showing

that people are more ready to come forward with reports. The campaign

won awards from the IPR and the Commission for Racial Equality, and it

is now recognised as a best practice model for other European cities.

The council was granted pounds 14,000 of EU funding, which enabled the

campaign to continue beyond its original cut-off date of February

1998.



Verdict



As the campaign is ongoing and the objective is to change people’s

attitudes, the real impact of the initiative cannot be gauged for some

time yet.



However, local authority liaison officer Sergeant Dinesh Joshi of

Lothian and Borders Police says a fundamental change in attitude has

already taken place. ’By using a simple and stark message, the campaign

has definitely made people stop and think, and they are clearly more

confident in coming forward with reports.’



Client: Black and Ethnic Minority Community Safety Working Group

(Edinburgh)

PR Team: City of Edinburgh Council and Crossan Communications

Campaign: Co-ordinated Action against Racism in Edinburgh (CARE)

Timescale: October 1997-on-going

Budget: Approximately pounds 15,000



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