Monthly Archives: June 2015

BBC News, the Lancashire Telegraph and the Buxton Advertiser all report on a suspected hate crime incident at the High Wood Cemetery in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire where a number of plots were desecrated at the weekend.

Around 10 plots in the cemetery were desecrated with incidents largely focused on Muslim plots according to Nottinghamshire police.

Nottingham City Council are treating the incident as a hate crime and Nottinghamshire police have stepped up patrols in the area after a number of Muslim and non-Muslim plots were damaged.

Deputy leader Graham Chapman said: “We will be increasing security at the cemetery and, although we cannot guarantee solving this hate crime, the council will be working with the police to do our utmost to track down the perpetrators.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Holland said: “Nottinghamshire Police has been liaising closely with the Muslim community in Nottinghamshire since the events in Tunisia and we have been in close contact following the reports of these events.

“I am sure everyone in Nottinghamshire will be united in their condemnation of these actions and we would urge anyone who knows anything about this incident to contact police immediately.”

Wasim Chaudry told BBC News that one of the plots that was vandalised belonged to a member of his family. He said: “She passed away just over three weeks ago so obviously it’s still quite raw… we had a temporary name plaque put on and it has all been shattered.

“I’m a bit angry to say the least.”

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that Whitehall need to invest more time and effort into improving diversity in the civil service as progress has “plateaued more recently,” BBC News reports.

The public spending regulator released a report last week detailing the figures from their third annual report on the three-year diversity strategy, 2012 – 2015.

The report found ethnic minorities were still under-represented in the civil service, particularly at senior levels. The Comptroller and Auditor General, Amyas Morse, admitted the civil service “faced some real challenges in progressing our diversity and inclusion agenda.”

The percentage of ethnic minority directors remained at only 8% over two years, from 2013 to 2015, meaning a failure to hit the target of a “year-on-year- increase.”

The report also observed a worsening of diversity figures in some areas. For example, the percentage of graduate trainees from ethnic minorities stood at 32% in 2013-2014 and fell to 27% in 2014-2015.

Figures have also decreased in the case of assessments, with the percentage of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees achieving the “highest appraisal ratings” of “outstanding” and “strong” falling from 47% in 2013-2014 to 38% in 2014-2015.

The report states that the diversity strategy target was for there to be “no difference between % BAME and % white employee achieving the highest ratings” by 2014-2015, yet 46% of white employees achieved the highest appraisal ratings, compared to 38% of BAME employees.

This has affected promotion figures, with the equality data published in the NAO’s separate ‘Equality Information’ report showing that in 2014-2015 every single employee promoted to ‘Director’ and ‘Senior Analyst’ was ‘White.’

Furthermore, the equality data shows that even by the end of March 2015 every person in a ‘Senior Management’ position was ‘White,’ as were 92.5% of the 53 directors.

BBC News reports that Morse does see the need for Whitehall to reflect an “increasingly diverse society” and “embrace an inclusive approach” to its workforce.

The head of the watchdog added that this was particularly vital now, in a period of “ongoing austerity,” when Whitehall “will have to do more with less.”

The NAO report sets out a “new and ambitious 2015–2018 Diversity and Inclusion strategy” that hopes to improve these figures and “build a diverse talent pipeline” at every level by working with “external bodies” to create a diverse group of graduates from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and “reducing unconscious bias” at all stages of decision-making.

The disappointing figures from the NAO follows research by executive recruitment consultancy, Green Park, into the top 10,000 executives in the UK, where diversity percentages are found to be shrinking.

The research shows that the number of ethnic minorities in leadership roles within the FTSE 100 has fallen over the past year and almost two thirds of FTSE 100 companies now have an all-white board.

Financial Director report that “Britain’s biggest companies risk putting themselves at a serious disadvantage in domestic and global markets” due to a “diversity deficit,” according to Green Park.

Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park Group expressed his concern, saying: “Britain’s top 100 companies operate in a global market and need to continue to target growth in developing economies worldwide. Despite all the focus on increasing diversity… UK companies are getting less ethnically diverse rather than more over the past year.”

The lack of diversity in Parliament was also specifically addressed by the BBC this week. The number of BME MPs in higher office is still woefully low, with 95% of the House of Commons made up of individuals of White British background.

Fair representation of ethnic minorities still has a long way to go across all sectors, both public and private, and the government seem to have done little to address this.

The Conservative Manifesto 2015 includes a brief pledge to “make our economy more inclusive,” but the Conservatives only mention removing obstacles that prevent women and disabled people from entering the workforce with no mention of targeted interventions to address BME equality.

A lack of ethnic diversity in the labour market is left untouched with the Tory manifesto staying only that the Government will pursue “equal opportunity for all in a society proud of its tolerance and diversity”.

The low level of BME recruitment and promotion is compounded by research from Bristol University’s Dr Nabil Khattab who analysed Labour Force Survey data and found Muslims to suffer the highest levels of discrimination in access to the labour market.

The problem of BME equality and employment discrimination specifically is one that has been seriously neglected over several years despite a seminal report in 2001 identifying the problem and recommending solutions.

Melanie Phillips in her column in The Times today argues “It’s pure myth that Islam is ‘a religion of peace” because, she asserts, “Islam has a history of violent conquest.”

Phillips criticises the PM, David Cameron, saying he “regrettably regressed to claiming once again that this was “not in the name of Islam” which was “a religion of peace”. This is utterly ludicrous. Islam has a history of violent conquest.”

She goes on to argue that ISIL “subscribes to the fanatical Salafi school of Islam dating from the 13th century [and which] is motivated by the desire to return to core Islamic doctrine and example. Its belief in the caliphate and the imminent global apocalypse, as well as its ghastly beheadings and crucifixions, are all drawn from Islamic religious texts.”

Phillips does not, of course, elucidate the “Islamic religious texts” on which she bases her assertions nor does she tease out the causal relationship she claims to exist between Salafi practice and a “belief in the caliphate and the imminent global apocalypse”. Absent is the nuanced understanding of Salafi movements and their contribution to counter-terrorism initiatives as detailed in research by Dr Bob Lambert and based on his time heading the Muslim Contact Unit at the Metropolitan Police after the London bombings in 2005.

No, instead Phillips repeats dubious research by the, as formerly known, Centre for Social Cohesion about “Opinion polls suggest[ing] that no fewer than one third of British Muslim students support the notion of a caliphate — a global empire based on sharia, in which all Muslims owe total allegiance to the caliph; a similar shocking number support killing to defend, promote or preserve religion.”

In fact, the question posed to Muslim students in the online survey conducted by YouGov in 2008 stated the following:

How supportive if at all would you be of the introduction of a worldwide Caliphate based on Shari’ah Law?

Very supportive                       15
Fairly supportive                     18
Not very supportive                12
Not at all supportive                13
Not sure                                  41

Is it ever justifiable to kill in the name of religion?

Yes in order to preserve and promote that religion    4
Yes but only if that religion is under attack                 28
No it is never justifiable                                               53
Not sure                                                                      15

As to the “shocking number [who] support killing to defend, promote or preserve religion,” it is clear from the answer options that students were not answering in relation to “Islam” but in response to a generic question about “religion”. It is also clear that the responses refer to a religion being “under attack” which is not the same as saying they “support killing to defend, promote or preserve religion.”

Moreover, the survey does not offer further details about what students may understand from religion being “under attack”.

Spinwatch in the report Cold War on British Muslims focus on the misrepresentation of the survey findings stating:

“The findings, as presented, make it impossible to tell how far the support for religious violence the study found correlates with Islam specifically, rather than with religious adherence generally. We are not told what percentage of Christian, Jewish, other religious or non-religious students believe religious violence is acceptable.”

But Phillips’ quotes from the survey, disregarding caveats and nuances, for a purpose. She states, “It is not for us non-Muslims to say which interpretation is the true Islam. Our task is instead not just to destroy those carrying out these terrible deeds but also to defeat the beliefs that motivate them.”

She goes on to support “reform” saying those who claim “Islam is a religion of peace” undermine reform “For if there is nothing wrong with Islam, it follows there is no need to reform it.”

Mehdi Hasan in a guest column some weeks ago gave a cogent response to those who forever lament the absence of a Muslim “Luther”.

As for the general thrust of Phillips’ column, that Islam is a peculiarly violent religion, one is reminded of the blog by Professor Juan Cole on religions and terrorism in which he notes, “It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims as inherently violent.

“Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.”

As Giles Fraser put it in a column in yesterday’s Observer, “Yes, the language of violent jihad may borrow its vocabulary from Islamic theology – it’s a useful marker of shared identity – but root motivation is as it always is: politics.”

If there’s one thing missing from Phillips’ analysis, it’s the consideration of politics as a causal factor in radicalisation.

The Belfast Live reports on an alleged incident of racial abuse and assault on a Muslim woman as she walked along a road in Portadown, Northern Ireland on Saturday afternoon.

The 40 year old victim was walking along the road when approached by a motorist in a white car. A female passenger travelling in the car is reported to have shouted words of racial abuse at the Muslim woman before stepping out of the car and attacking her.

The Muslim woman, whose family have lived in the local area for 20 years, reported the incident to the police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland are treating the offence as a religiously aggravated hate crime.

A spokesperson for PSNI said: “PSNI have a strong message – religious hate crime is unacceptable. Nobody deserves this. And nobody deserves to get away with it. An active investigation is ongoing and a female is presently in custody in relation to the matter. A number of passing cars are believed to have beeped their horns on seeing this incident.

“We are urgently trying to identify any witnesses. If you saw anything please contact us on 101 as soon as you can. Hate crime is unacceptable. To stop it, report it.”

PSNI report that a number of passing motorists beeped their horns on witnessing the incident on the road and have appealed for them to come forward.

BBC News reports that a woman was arrested in connection with the incident and has been released on police bail.

The incident comes on the back of several recent reports of Muslim women being harassed or abused. Last week, a Leeds university student reported an alleged incident ofracially aggravated harassment when a National Express coach driver refused her, and her friends, access to a Manchester – Leeds coach repeatedly making claims about the girls carrying “smelly curry food”. A week prior, a Muslim couple travelling on a tram in Manchester city centre were abused by a group of young white girls four of whom have since been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence. This month also saw a Muslim woman assaulted and her headscarf forcibly removed by a group of young women as she went to collect her children from school in Croydon. Two women, aged 35 and 18, have since been arrested on suspicion of common assault and a racially aggravated public order offence.

The high incidence of hate crime affecting Muslim women has been documented in hate crime reports with Muslim womens’ visibility and vulnerability exposed as reasons behind the high rate of anti-Muslim hate crime.

Rod Liddle on the Spectator’s Coffee House blogs bites the ‘Muslim fury’ bait trailed in the Daily Express and Daily Mail last week with this observation about the “gaffes” witnessed by Muslim shoppers in certain branches of Tesco and Morrisons:

“It’s enough to arouse fury, even if Muslims are prohibited only from eating pig itself, not stuff that might pass itself off as pig. Good. You kowtow to this religion with a ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ promotion, you deserve all you get.”

Never mind that the supposed ‘fury’ is but the fantasy of sub-editors and journalists on tabloid titles. We wonder if supermarket promotions aimed at Christian or Jewish festivals would earn the same condescension of “kowtowing” to those religions?

As Professor Stuart Weir once observed, “writers in the broadsheet press and elsewhere [willingly] indulge themselves in blatantly anti-Islamic rhetoric and argument that would, as they argue, not be tolerated if it were directed against Jews, say, or gay people.”

A West London branch of Morrisons is the second supermarket to make news after “a blunder” in which it advertised frozen pork products to customers beside promotional stickers for Ramadan, the London Evening Standard reports.

This incident comes days after a Tesco store in Liverpool Street came under fire for placing ‘Smokey Bacon’ flavour Pringles on a product display wishing Muslim customers “Ramadan Mubarak”.

A Muslim customer, Shoaib Khan, noticed the sticker in the Morrisons store on 25 May and described the mistake as a “disappointing gaffe.”

“I don’t think it’s offensive, but it’s disappointing,” said Khan.

“If you’re going to do something like that you need to do it properly. I wasn’t offended, but other Muslims might have been. They need to be careful about this sort of thing,” he added.

The Evening Standard reports that Morrisons believe the sticker may have been deliberately moved by a customer as pork products are, obviously, not part of their Ramadan promotions.

“The photo appears to show a Ramadan sticker that was originally located in another freezer section.”

“Somebody appears to have moved the sticker before the photo was taken. We can confirm that the Ramadan sticker is not near any pork products this week,” a spokesperson said.

The Daily Express reports that a second Morrisons store has received complaints from a customer who took a photo of products containing ham in a display advertising the supermarket’s Ramadan promotion.

Jameela Ahmed tweeted the picture on 24 June prompting a Morrisons staff member to quickly enquire as to which store the photo was taken in.

Ahmed confirmed it was her local store in Bedford and a spokesperson from the store, reiterating the statement from the supermarket’s west London branch, insisted that the Ramadan sticker must have been moved from another fridge before the photo was taken.

Customers who have posted photos of “gaffes” found in supermarket aisles have helped them to respond swiftly to what appears to be mischief-making.

But then consider the manner in which the newspapers have reported the “gaffes”.

The Daily Express headlines the article “More Muslim outrage after supermarket sells pork next to Ramadan sticker” and offers this opening sentence:

“The Morrisons store was attacked by Shoaib Khan for the “disappointing gaffe” after he spotted the sticker on a freezer.”

Compare this to the report in the Evening Standard newspaper which notes that Mr Khan “said he doubted it had been done on purpose but suspected an oblivious member of staff was responsible.”

The ES adds Mr Khan’s further comment that “[He] wasn’t offended but other Muslims might have been.”

Does Mr Khan’s describing the incident as “[not] offensive, but it’s disappointing,” justify the Daily Express’ representation of “More Muslim outrage” and its claims that the Morrisons store was “attacked by Shoaib Khan”?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the Daily Express has been caught stoking anti-Muslim intolerance or contributed to the manufacturing of “Muslim rage”.

Local paper, Dudley News, reports on the proceedings of a public meeting attended by police chiefs, local councillors, anti-racism campaigners and members of the local community to discuss the impact of repeat protests by the far right on the town’s residents and businesses.

Chief Inspector Phil Dolby told the meeting he was preparing a report for the Home Secretary in the hope the strain on local police, businesses and Dudley residents might see the Home Secretary take stern action against further protests planned by far right groups.

The English Defence League, Britain First and AFFFMAI (All Football Fans/ Firms March Against Islamisation) have all organised anti-mosque protests in the town taking a toll on police budgets, local residents, Dudley’s Muslim population and local businesses.

The open meeting held on Tuesday 23 June heard from a range of concerned officials and members of the public with the meeting chair, Chris Allen, “urging individuals, business leaders and politicians to also write to the Home Secretary, with whom the power to ban protests that could pose a threat to public order rests”, according to the local paper.

The Dudley Muslim Association, which is behind the mosque building application, has in the past hosted open days to invite detractors to learn more about the project but this has done little to ward off far right protestors who only seem to be more animated in their opposition.

Calls for protests by the far right to be better regulated have been voiced more frequently with some police chiefs calling for a change in the law.

Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus reports on an investigation launched by South Yorkshire police after staff a member at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College allegedly shared a “tasteless and offensive” post from the far right group, Britain First, on her Facebook page.

The post, which shows an image of women in niqab and states “share if you find this offensive” was allegedly shared by a member of the college’s support staff, Angie Dunn.

Dunn claims her social media account was hacked and police are said to be investigating this claim too after the incident was reported by the college.

Principal, Jen McIntosh, in a letter sent to parents of pupils at the school stated, “Prejudice and racism in any form is not acceptable in or out of our college and any such behaviour is taken very seriously. That is why the matter has been reported to the police for investigation as a hate crime.”

The College has not made any statement concerning Dunn’s status as enquiries get underway.

Police have confirmed the parallel investigations to the Telegraph and Argus.

The paper further notes comments by Councillor Mohammed Shafiq of Bradford City Council who said he had received ten calls within the space of an hour from worried parents.

He said: “I’m pleased that the school has launched a full investigation to look into this matter and the priority remains the education of our children. I’m sure once this investigation is concluded, the school will inform councillors and parents of the outcome.”

Douglas Murray has a comment piece published in the Daily Express yesterday adding righteous indignation to that already seen in the Daily Mail about the PM’s speech last week about British Muslims blaming anyone and everyone for radicalisation but themselves.

Murray introduces the issue of the three young girls from Bethnal Green Academy Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, and Khadiza Sultana, who absconded last year and fled to Syria.

He writes, “Keith Vaz MP invited the families to testify in front of his House of Commons committee. There they blamed the police, among others, for failing to stop their daughters joining the terrorist group.”

Murray goes on to deride the suggestion that the Metropolitan police be blamed by the girls’ families, particularly the father of Amira Abase after footage of him attending a protest organised by Anjem Choudary’s group emerged.

It is perhaps fair that Murray should question whether Hussen Abase taking his daughter along to the demonstrations could have played a role in her radicalisation but the point about blaming the Metropolitan police is inaccurately put.

The families contended that the Met Police had failed to alert them to the risk faced because a letter informing them of the departure of a fellow pupil at the school was handed to the girls, who concealed them, not to the families.

As some of the family members related to the committee, they were caught completely unawares because the fateful letter, which may have given them cause to probe the girls about the disappearance of a fellow pupil known to each of them, was never received.

It would be churlish indeed to suggest their criticism of the Met’s handling of the situation was intended to deflect their own responsibility for what transpired.

Murray goes one to criticise the families’ lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, who attended the session in parliament alongside the families of Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, and Khadiza Sultana because he “is not only linked with the extremist group Cage (of Jihadi John fame) but has also claimed that the security services “created” Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby.”

The designation of the human rights group CAGE as an “extremist” organisation has been quick to take root following the media campaign against the group for suggesting that the security services may have played a role in the radicalisation of “Jihadi John”.

The claims of its being an “extremist group” are based on no empirical evidence of anything CAGE may have done to merit the description. It is a subjective labelling intended to cast Muslim organisations, as Baroness Warsi puts it, “beyond the pale”.

Furthermore, the belief that the security services have contributed to the radicalisation of young Muslims is one shared by over a third of Muslims according to a poll released earlier this year.

Moreover, the role of the security services in the radicalisation of Michael Adebolajo surfaces in the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. The report states, in relation to Adebolajo’s claims of mistreatment at the hands of the security services:

“SIS did not adequately assess Adebolajo’s allegations of mistreatment. They viewed them in the context of assurances given before the allegations were made and by an organisation whose credibility they were not in a position to evaluate.

“When considering Adebolajo’s allegations of mistreatment there was relevant background that SIS failed to take into account. The Committee does not agree with SIS’s assessment that this evidence was irrelevant.”

Saying the security services have “created” terrorists is quite a leap but Akunjee is surely entitled to his view. And questions raised elsewhere about the role of the security services and the police in the process of radicalisation hardly fits Murray’s claim that Muslims are always wanting to blame someone other than themselves.

Murray refers to the most recent incident of the three sisters from Bradford complaining that “The families and their supporters asked why the British police had not stopped the women?”

In fact, the women’s husbands have done more than ask why more was not done to stop the women. The men have suggested, in a letter sent by their lawyer to the chair of the Home Affairs Committee, that the North East Counter Terrorism Unit may be “complicit” in the womens’ radicalisation alleging that their wives were “encouraged” to make contact with their brother who had already fled to Syria.

This is not on par with suggesting the husbands are looking to point the finger of blame at anyone but themselves. They are seeking answers to questions they hope can help them understand what has happened; how it happened and why.

Murray goes on to generalise about Muslim reactions to counter-terrorism policy and policing stating:

“This is far from an unusual position in Britain’s Muslim communities, where a pushback against any and all government surveillance and counter-terrorism programmes has been rife for years.

“For at least the past 14 years almost every Muslim leader and “community spokesperson” in the UK has complained about police “spying”.

Well, let us recount the reasons why Muslim communities have been “pushing back” against encroachments on their civil liberties shall we?

How about Operation Champion in Birmingham where cameras were installed in a densely Muslim populated area of the city before the local council was forced to take them down?

How about cases of Muslim nursery school children being “spied” on by officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit?

How about the questionnaire recently circulated to schoolchildren in Waltham Forest asking young people leading questions about their approach to religion?

How about claims evaluated in the report by the Institute of Race Relations and authored by Arun Kundnani about Prevent money being used to “spy” on Muslim communities?

How about the response from the former Director of Prevent, Debbie Gupta, and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson responding to concerns about “spying” on Muslims refuting the allegations uncovered by a newspaper investigation? Or indeed, the assurances from former MP Shahid Malik and David Hanson refuting claims that the Prevent programme was “spying” on Muslims. No smoke without fire, hey?

And then, what about claims that university students are not immune from the clutches of the policy with “grooming” of student spies on campus?

The Communities and Local Government Inquiry into Prevent and the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into the Roots of Violent Radicalisation which reported “We remain concerned by the number of our witnesses who felt that Prevent had been used to ‘spy’ on Muslim communities” and “[T]here is a lingering suspicion about the Prevent Strategy amongst Muslim communities, many of whom continue to believe that it is essentially a tool for intelligence-gathering or spying” respectively.

If Muslims have been “pushing back” over the last 14 years it is because they have felt the effects of a “toxic” policy which has only served to alienate, stigmatise and marginalise them.

Or are British Muslims not allowed to say that without inviting accusations of self-indulgence?

A Guardian analysis of government figures released in April this year has revealed an alarming increase in the proportion of young offenders from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

The figures, issued by the Youth Justice Board (YJB), show that from 2014-15, 40% of prisoners aged under 18 were from BME backgrounds. The BME population as a proportion of the UK total population is 14.1%.

Whilst there has been a significant reduction in the amount of young people in state custody since 2005, the number of BME youths in prison has not fallen significantly.

The Guardian reports that the proportion of Asian prisoners in youth custody has increased by 75% and one in five young prisoners is Black, a 67% rise. Contrastingly, the proportion of white youth offenders has dropped from almost 75% of detainees to 60%.

A former regional prison manager, Kashan Amar, believes that the worryingly disproportionate figures have much to do with the high percentage of reoffenders,particularly Muslim youths. Amar argues four out of five young Muslims reoffend after release for several reasons left unaddressed by authorities contributing to the over-representation of Muslims in the prison population.

“There is a significant barrier on resettlement for Muslims, lack of community support and taboo amongst their families,” Amar explains.

“We see that Muslims are under-represented in sex offender and substance rehabilitation programmes, for example,” he added.

A report by The Young Review published in December 2014, entitled ‘Improving outcomes for young black and/or Muslim men in the Criminal Justice System’, led by Baroness Young, found that despite less than 1% of offences by Muslims being terrorism related, the authorities continue to view the community as a whole “with suspicion.”

The report revealed the level of racism within the justice system, where black offenders “are stereotyped as drug dealers, and Muslim prisoners as terrorists”.

In addition, BME offenders were more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders, even for the same offence.

The Institute of Race Relations released figures showing that ethnic minorities are facing discrimination at each stage of the criminal justice process, from initial police checks to the likelihood of imprisonment and the length of sentence, compared to white Britons.

An Asian offender was found to be 19% more likely to be given a prison sentence for shoplifting and 41% more likely for a drug offence than a white person, according to IRR’s analysis.

Baroness Young believes argues that successive governments have “not taken the issue seriously” and institutional racism is not the only issue that needs to be confronted when looking for solutions.

According to The Young Review report, Britain has greater disproportionate representation of young black and Muslim inmates than the United States.

The Conservative Government have voiced its concern over stop and search ratios, insisting they will bring in legislation if figures do not improve, but have yet to address the wider issue of discrimination at all phases of the criminal justice process.

Efforts to make stop and search data transparent, and therefore police officers more accountable, have recently been introduced. In January this year police forces began publishing details on stops and searches online including details on the ethnicity, gender and age range. But this is only a small part of a much wider problem and while Labour have raised the issue of the rising number of Muslim prisoners, the Government has, to date, not put forward policy initiatives to address the problem.