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Bristol council apologises after ‘institutional racism’ unearthed in murder report

Bristol City Council mayor Marvin Rees has apologised after a report found evidence of “institutional racism” in an investigation into the death of Bijan Ebrahimi.

The disabled Iranian refugee was beaten to death and set on fire by neighbour Lee James in July 2013.

James has since been jailed for life, but an independent review commissioned by the Safer Bristol Partnership found that both Avon & Somerset Police and the council had shown evidence of “discriminatory behaviour.”

In a statement, Rees said: “On behalf of Bristol City Council we sincerely and wholeheartedly apologise for the failings in the council’s treatment of Bijan leading up to his tragic death in July 2013.

“We appreciate that no amount of lessons learned or changes in practice can possibly mitigate the impact this had on Bijan and his family.

“However, we assure the family and the public that every effort will continue to be made, building on the considerable work that has already been completed by the council as part of the Safer Bristol Partnership, to further identify how we need to change and improve.

“We are committed to working with the family and other partners to achieve this objective in memory of Bijan.”

The mayor said the authority accepted all the findings of the review including “evidence of both discriminatory behaviour and institutional racism on the part of Bristol City Council.”

Included in the report are a range of recommendations made to the council to ensure an incident such as this is unlikely to happen again.

These involve making sure steps which are likely to have a punitive effect, such as anti-social behavioural injunctions, are only taken after a comprehensive investigation has taken place along with considerations on the stigmatising effect such proceedings could have on a defendant.

The Safer Bristol Partnership also suggested Bristol council undertake an immediate review of its existing caseload of tenants with multiple, complex needs in order to inform future practices.

Furthermore, the review recommends the council’s criteria for a vulnerable tenant does not exclude those who are able to “live independently”, as this could omit residents who need help.

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