Commission for Racial Equality starts legal proceedings against 15 government departments for failing to comply with race laws

The government has received 15 lawyers’ letters after the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) lost its patience over promises to comply with race laws.

The outgoing race watchdog today revealed it had instructed its legal team to start proceedings against the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health, as well as 12 other departments and agencies.

In a final monitoring and enforcement report, the CRE announced that not a single government department was complying with its duty to promote equality of employment under the Race Relations Act.

The CRE, which will be replaced by the overarching Commission for Equality and Human Rights on 1 October, said that it had listened to empty assurances of future compliance for too long.

“The commission has adopted a softly-softly approach to compliance across Whitehall departments and agencies,” said the report. “This approach has been driven by politics and the positive messages that have periodically emanated from departments.”

It added that it delayed and even dropped legal action in the past to pacify senior Whitehall managers.

“In hindsight, this approach has not delivered as much progress as the commission would have expected,” the report concluded.

The 15 bodies now facing legal action are:

  • Cabinet Office
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Department for Education and Skills
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department for Transport
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Forestry Commission
  • Home Office
  • HM Revenue and Customs
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Office of Fair Trading
  • Office for National Statistics

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