Dr Robin Oakley is an independent consultant based in the UK, who specialises in undertaking training, research and policy development on racial equality issues and ethnic relations, working with public authorities and NGOs both in Britain and across Europe . He has worked in this field for over forty years, and has published widely on these subjects. His career has been driven by a strong commitment to equality, justice and human rights, and he has also been actively engaged in the NGO sector on these issues in a voluntary capacity.
He has a first degree in social sciences from the University of Cambridge, followed by a post-graduate Diploma in Social Anthropology and a D.Phil in Sociology from the University of Oxford . From the mid-1960s until the early 1980s he was on the faculty of the University of London . During this period, in addition to academic teaching, the subjects on which he conducted research included the migration and settlement of Cypriots in Britain, and (in the aftermath of the Scarman Report of 1981) ethnic differences in the life-styles of young people. He also had close involvement with other levels of education and with training for professions: for example, he was responsible for the first published hand-book for school-teachers on ethnic minority children in 1968, and was extensively involved in the development of social science curricula in secondary schools and further education from the late 1960s onwards.
During the 1980s he was Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Community and Race Relations, at Brunel University in West London. Here he developed post-graduate courses on racial equality issues for professionals and voluntary sector workers. He also directed a major national research project on racial violence and harassment for the Department of the Environment, which in 1989 produced good practice guidelines for local housing authorities.
Since the early 1980s, he has been closely involved with training for a variety of professional groups in race relations and equal opportunities. The many groups for whom he has designed and delivered training programmes include youth workers, social workers, magistrates and staff of higher education institutions. He acted as consultant to the Judicial Studies Board of the Lord Chancellor’s Department on for the national training programme on ethnic minority issues for the judiciary, and to the Council of Legal Education on equal opportunity issues relating to the training of barristers. He has also provided training for such bodies as the Police Complaints Authority, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, and Area Criminal Justice Liaison Committees. He has been particularly concerned with the development of training in these fields for police officers, and has worked with police training establishments throughout Britain, including the Police Staff College at Bramshill, and the Metropolitan Police College at Hendon. Throughout the 1990s he acted as Academic Adviser to the Home Office Specialist Support Unit for Police Community and Race Relations Training, at Turvey, Bedfordshire, where he was also a Senior Consultant with Equalities Associates Ltd. He submitted influential evidence on the concept of 'institutional racism' to the Macpherson Inquiry into the police investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
In addition, he has contributed to the development and implementation of race-related policy in a wide range of central government departments and local authorities, covering fields such as education, employment, health and housing. He has also undertaken a variety of research and consultancy projects for the Commission for Racial Equality (now Equality & Human Rights Commission) and local Racial Equality Councils. For the CRE, he worked particularly on developing practical guidance on implementing the anti-discrimination and good relations provisions of the Race Relations Act, as well as on strengthening the capacity of RECs. More recently he has worked with government departments on issues relating to Roma, Gypsies and Travellers, and with The Runnymede Trust and The Trust for London on initiatives for the prevention of racist violence among young people.
In a voluntary capacity he has been active over many years in local-level work for racial equality in London and elsewhere, and on behalf of Camden Racial Equality Council and the Anne Frank Educational Trust (UK) he organised a central London showing of the international Anne Frank Exhibition in 1997. During the 1990s he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and is presently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London, and an Associate of its Equality Research & Consulting Group, with whom he has worked on a variety of projects. He is also a Runnymede Fellow at The Runnymede Trust.
At European level, he has acted on a regular basis as a consultant on ethnic and racial issues for the Council of Europe since 1988. This work has included undertaking a variety of country-specific missions, organising international meetings in Strasbourg, and producing European-level guidance publications on topics such as police training, racist violence, and combating racism against Roma. He acted as consultant to the City of Rotterdam for the development of the Rotterdam Charter: ‘Policing for a Multi-Ethnic Society’ (1997), and subsequently as transnational evaluator/adviser for the nine-country EU-funded NAPAP Project (NGOs And Police Against Prejudice). More recently he was engaged by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities as consultant for the production of ‘OSCE Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies’, and follow-up work to promote their implementation was undertaken in countries including Georgia and Ukraine, as well as in relation to Kosovo. He also prepared a comparative report on ‘Policing Racist Crime and Violence’ for the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now Fundamental Rights Agency) in Vienna. Subsequently he worked as consultant with the Latvian Centre for Human Rights on an EU-funded initiative on this theme in Latvia and the Czech Republic.
From 1998 onwards, he worked closely with the London-based NGO European Dialogue, particularly on Roma issues. He was a convenor for the first European Workshop on Roma-Police Relations, held at Turvey in the UK in 1999. From 2000-2004 he acted as Programme Consultant for the transnational RrAJE Programme (Roma Rights and Access to Justice in Europe), which supported the development of local-level strategies for Roma integration in countries of Central/Eastern Europe, with core funding from the UK Department for International Development. Subsequently he has acted as Adviser for both the EIDHR-funded project ‘Ethnic Minorities and Access to Justice in the Russian Federation’, and for the EC-funded transnational TRAILER Programme on combating discrimination against Roma & Travellers. From 2004-2008 he was the principal consultant for a Europe-wide programme of activities coordinated by ED on behalf of OSCE/ODIHR to support implementation of the policing recommendations in the OSCE Action Plan for Roma & Sinti: this involved work in countries including Romania, Russia, Macedonia and Serbia. Following the closure of ED in 2010, he has continued to work on Roma issues across Europe, principally through assisting the Council of Europe's Congress of Local & Regional Authorities to develop a strategy for addressing Roma issues.
In addition to his activities with European-level organisations, he has worked on initiatives in a wide range of individual countries across Europe, covering all regions of the continent, and including countries in the Western Balkans, the Russian Federation, Latvia, Georgia and Ukraine. He has also been involved in the work of the UN and UNDP on issues of racism and ethnic relations, and has given talks or seminars in countries including India, Australia and the USA (where he was a visiting speaker at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York on several occasions during the 1990s). He has also been involved in a number of initiatives on these issues with The British Council, including drafting anti-racist guidance for staff globally.