Racism in Scotland

What are the key racism issues in Scotland?

More than fifty years on from the creation of the Race Relations Act 1965 (the first legislation to address racial inequality in the UK), significant inequalities persist in many areas of life for minority ethnic groups in Scotland. These poor outcomes and disadvantages include:

  • Lower employment rates among minority ethnic groups, with significant variance by ethnicity (Scottish Census 2011)

  • Higher levels of educational attainment (Scottish Government 2014) failing to translate into labour market advantage

  • Experiences of occupational segregation (Scottish Census 2011)

  • Over-representation in further education, disparate to relatively lower participation in higher education and higher rates of school-leaving attainment (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2011)

  • Under-representation in Modern Apprenticeships (Skills Development Scotland 2015)

  • Experiences of discrimination and racism in work (CRER 2015) (Equal Opportunities Committee 2015)

  • Higher risk of poverty, with non-white minority ethnic individuals at twice the risk of white individuals (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2015)

  • Lower rate of benefit take-up (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2011) (CRER 2015)

  • Racist violence, with racist hate crime consistently the most reported hate crime in Scotland (COPFS 2015)

  • Racial discrimination, with 17% of those from a non-white minority ethnic group experiencing discrimination compared to 7% of those from a white ethnic group (Scottish Household Survey 2015)

  • Racial prejudice, with 22% of people living in Scotland feeling that there is sometimes a good reason to be prejudiced, 35% of people believing that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Black and Asian people came to live in Scotland, and 38% believing the same about Easter European migration (Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015)

  • Racist bullying in schools, with inconsistency in policies and practices to address this (CRER 2012)

  • Higher likelihood to be worried about physical attack or being the victim of a crime (Equality and Human Rights Commission 2016)

  • Institutional racism within the justice system (CRER 2012)

  • Experiences of discrimination and prejudice in public services (CRER 2015)

  • Significant under-representation in elected office, including local authorities, the Scottish Parliament, and the UK Parliament

  • Significant under-representation in public appointments (Public Appointment Scotland 2014) and in public bodies (CRER)

  • Significant under-representation in the media (BBC Scotland 2015) (Press Gazette)

  • Higher likelihood of households with non-white minority ethnic children living in disadvantaged circumstances than white children (Scottish Government 2013)

  • Increased likelihood of homelessness (Scottish Government)

  • Increased likelihood of experiencing overcrowding in housing or in homes without central heating (Scottish Census 2011)

Clearly, Scotland is still a country in which disadvantage due to structural and institutional racism exist and in which people are discriminated against based on their ethnicity and race.

What is CRER doing to help?

Through research and resource development, policy development and advocacy, parliamentary monitoring and engagement, campaigning, capacity building, community engagement and work with public bodies and partners, CRER's work takes a strategic approach to tackling deeply rooted issues of racial inequality.


Our interest is with institutions and structures that perpetuate racism and racial inequality in Scotland.

While our work is not client-based, we are careful to ensure our work responds to the needs and ambitions of minority ethnic communities in Scotland and that our priorities reflect the priorities of communities.