This chapter considers some of the factors that appear to cause division and conflict in Britain’s cities and towns. It lays out the background that gave rise to the government’s policies on community cohesion from 2001 and the substance of that policy. It also examines the renewed importance of culture and religion within communities and explains how practitioners, building on their long-held commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice, can use tools of mediation and dialogue to defuse local conflict.

Following the civil disturbances in some northern cities in the summer of 2001 between white and Asian young men, the police and far right groups, the government moved swiftly to tackle what it saw as communities fractured by ethnic and faith divides. The