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The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdommarker which aimed to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality. Its work has been merged into the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, though it will subsist as a separate body until 2009.

The commission was established by the Race Relations Act 1976, passed by James Callaghan's Labour government. The first director of the commission was former Conservative M.P., David Lane.

The Race Relations Act applies in England, Wales and Scotland. It does not apply in Northern Ireland, where the Race Relations (NI) Order 1997 applies. The CRE's work covers all the areas where people are protected against discrimination under the Race Relations Act.

The mission statement of the Commission was: "We work for a just and integrated society, where diversity is valued. We use persuasion and our powers under the law to give everyone an equal chance to live free from fear of discrimination, prejudice and racism."

The main goals of the CRE were:
  • To encourage greater integration and better relations between people from different ethnic groups.
  • To use its legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment.
  • To work with government and public authorities to promote racial equality in all public services.
  • To support local and regional organisations, and employers in all sectors, in their efforts to ensure equality of opportunity and good race relations.
  • To raise public awareness of racial discrimination and injustice, and to win support for efforts to create a fairer and more equal society.

The CRE organised the annual RIMA (Race in the Media) awards. In 2005 the Media Personality of the Year award was won by footballer Thierry Henry. The 2006 RIMA awards ceremony were held on 14 June at the Royal Opera House, London.

In 2006 the CRE launched a new free bimonthly publication on race issues, Catalyst Magazine. The magazine aims "to kickstart debates, discussions, new ideas and arguments - about where we are now, and where we might be going in the future."


  • In October 2004 the Commission was to be merged into a new single Great Britain equalities body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). However, the CRE proposed a new non-governmental public body to work alongside the CEHR to guide, advise and mediate on community relations, civic engagement and citizenship.
  • Segregation. On September 22nd 2005, in the aftermath of the July bombings in Londonmarker, Trevor Phillips gave a speech, "Sleepwalking to Segregation", warning that the UK was in danger of becoming a segregated nation.
  • National identity cards. In their January 2005 report doc, the CRE raised concerns over the potential effects of the Identity Cards Bill on ethnic minority and vulnerable groups in society.


See also :Category:Commissioners for Racial Equality

The CRE was run by up to 15 commissioners (including the chair), who were appointed by the Home Secretary.

Commissioners as of January 2007


When it was first established, there was a lot of judicial and governmental unrest about the scope of the Commission's investigatory powers. In one particular case, Lord Denning MR went so far as to compare the use by the CRE of its investigative powers to "the days of the inquisition". Subsequent House of Lords decisions made clear that the Commission had no power to launch investigations into employers' affairs where there had been no allegation of discrimination.

There has been some controversy surrounding what has been perceived by many to be the CRE's unequal handling of cases of discrimination. Trevor Philips recent refusal to comment on a 'black children only'[72037] school trip causing much anger among members of the local white community. The organisation has also been criticised for having a disproportionate number of ethnic minority members on its staff, again raising the question of whether or not the organisation is really promoting genuine equality, or simply lobbying for minority groups. The organisation has rarely spoken out about cases of discrimination against whites such as a high profile case in 2006 where a graduate was refused a job for being white[72038].

See also


  1. Science Research Council v. Nasse [1979] QB 144
  2. R v. CRE, ex parte Hillingdon Borough Council [1982] AC 779 and In re Prestige [1984] ICR 473

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