RACISM is a major issue in the North East, according to a report.
Durham University researchers, along with those from Teesside and Northumbria, spent a year studying race, crime and justice in the region.
They say the key issues identified by black and minority ethnic (BME) people is continuing racism at both individual and institutional levels, within the public and private sectors, with particular concern relating to aspects of the criminal justice system.
Researchers also found there is a lack of trust that police and other agencies deal with racist incidents effectively in terms of recording, responding to, monitoring and tracking incidents to assemble an accurate picture of racism in the region.
The study found that racist incidents are not restricted either to areas where there are high levels of BME settlement or to urban areas in the region.
The report revealed that some community organisations have helped to make improvements, but the situation is still very worrying for some, particularly in areas which are targeted by right-wing extremists.
Durham University’s Professor Gary Craig, one of the directors of the research team, said: “The picture is uneven across the region and across different police forces, but the general picture is an alarming one of racist abuse and attacks.
“We should all be concerned about this.
“Since the death of Stephen Lawrence, which was supposed to have confronted us all with the reality of racist violence, almost 100 people have died in the UK as a result of racialised violence.
“This is an issue we all have responsibility actively to address.”
He said one respondent to the research said that women in traditional clothes in a city indoor shopping centre had been spat at, verbally abused and had their hair scarves pulled off.
The team has now established a permanent Race, Crime and Justice Research Group which, it is hoped, will include researchers from every university in the region together with others who are interested in research in this area, committed to ending racism in the North East.