Political parties will be challenged by local groups who use race as a campaign tactic to ignite community tensions and conflicts warned the CRE today.
The CRE is urging local groups to take a 'zero tolerance' stance against racist activity that seeks to divide local communities in the run up to the election period.
Local partners can play an important part in monitoring organised racist activity, identifying trends, coordinating a local response to increases in racist behaviour, and making sure that victims get the support they need.
Racial hatred is not confined to any single community and where this arises it must be challenged head on. MP's and political leaders will be reminded by the CRE that their campaigns should not use negative stereotyping or misinformation about race to boost votes.
CRE Chair, Kay Hampton said:
"The CRE may be the regulators of the Race Relations Act, but our role is not just to wave a big stick. We also expect Local Authorities to confront the myths, or misinformation others may use and we look to local groups and organisations to act as the 'eyes and ears' within communities".
"Together, we must remind political parties of their responsibility to ensure that loose words in the heat of the campaign do not ignite conflicts. We need to nurture an environment in which everyone feels they have a stake in society and we must fight to guarantee that everyone's issues and concerns can be aired in the political arena fairly and accurately"
"Promoting good race relations requires leadership and real interaction between and within our communities. It is essential that people are encouraged to support inclusion and reject separatist ideas. This is about changing everyone's attitudes no matter their cultural background or nationality".
Cllr Richard Kemp, vice chair of the Local Government Association, said:
"As the only body directly elected by local people to represent them, councils have a duty to ensure that everyone in their locality feels respected and lives with a sense of responsibility and belonging. Local authorities must take the lead in creating safe and cohesive communities where people can thrive, regardless of race, colour or creed.
"Councils accept that, particularly at election times, things can be said which people later regret. More worryingly, things can be said which people do not regret and which can undermine community relations and inflame local tensions. At this time councils must be especially vigilant in tackling myths, lies and misdirection wherever they appear."
The CRE has also organised a series of seminars on myth-busting and the law for local authorities and lawyers to help challenge the inaccuracies, racism and misrepresentation that seek to decide to divide our communities.