Search
13.12.2017
NEWS

HISTORY

TRADITIONS, CULTURE

PERSONALITIES

USEFUL CONTACTS

PHOTOS OF THE ROMA

VARIOUS

RADIO PRAGUE










Česky English Deutsch Francais
Petr Torák: the Roma refugee who became a British policeman
14-04-2008 - Rosie Johnston
Petr Torák is being touted as the ‘new face of British policing’. But he actually comes from Liberec, northern Bohemia. Having emigrated from the Czech Republic with his family in 1999 – following on from a racist attack - he is now working to accommodate the immigrant community in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. His story has captured both the local and the foreign press. I caught up with him on a brief visit back to Prague:

Petr Torák, photo: www.dailymail.co.uk “So, I moved to Britain in 1999 because of the persecution we were facing here in the Czech Republic. Because my father was active in politics, and because of his opinions and his activities, I was attacked by a group of skinheads. Passers-by just watched and did nothing, they didn’t say anything. And then a few days later my mother was attacked by a group of skinheads – she was beaten up. So we went to the police and they said ‘do you know their names? If you don’t there is no point in even making a statement’. So they did nothing and that is when we decided to leave the country.”

And when you moved to Britain was it what you hoped it would be, or did you find yourself subject to more abuse?

“I didn’t know a lot about Britain, but we were very surprised how it works in the UK. It was a positive surprise, because even in those first days we would walk around the city and people would greet us with a ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’, and it was really very nice.”

Can you tell me how you first got involved in the British police force?

“Yes, I tried to become a councilor in the city where I live, but that was unsuccessful. So I had to think of another way to work helping the community, and joining the police force was a good way to do that.”

And can you tell me a bit more about the job that you do, because I know that you work with immigrants in particular?

“Yes, most of my time is spent working with newcomers from Eastern Europe in particular, from the Czech Republic, and from Poland. Not only because I am from the Czech Republic originally, but because I know the majority of these sorts of languages and I can do it well because I can interact with them and understand their culture. So that is why I work with them so much.”

From what you have seen in your work, do you think that this new wave of immigrants in Britain is integrating well, and being well integrated, into British society? Are there particular groups which seem to be integrating better?

“Yes, you see it is a long process, integration, and it is not always easy. But there are certain groups which integrate more quickly, and more easily than others. For example Polish people – I think because they have been resettled in the UK for sometime now. So yes, there are some who integrate more quickly and more easily, but all in all, it takes a long time.”

From what you see in Britain right now through your work, and from what you have experienced here in the Czech Republic, can you compare the problem of racism in the two countries? Are different groups targeted in these countries?

“I think discrimination exists everywhere, in the UK as well. But the main difference is the public opinion. Because here in the Czech Republic, I know from my personal experience that it is not just the opinion of one politician or one group of people that the Roma are bad and thieves and dirty – it is the opinion of the whole population. In the UK, you are taken more as an individual – so if you behave badly, then you can expect to be bullied and expect hatred.

“And also the difference can be seen in the police and in other public bodies. In the UK, they tackle the issue of discrimination very quickly and very efficiently.”



Related articles
DateTitleFeature
17.04.2015Czech Roma to receive OBE from Queen Elizabeth IINews
04.08.2009Family of Roma ‘prince’ take body home for burialNews
03.08.2009Roma ‘prince’ dies in hospitalNews
02.08.2009Police not planning to move Romanian Romanies from makeshift camp on outskirts of PragueNews
01.08.2009Local officials call on police to move Romanian Romanies now camped on private landNews
Article
Format for printing
Send as e-mail

Also in section "News"
24.11.17  Council of Europe commissioner welcomes Lety pig farm deal
01.08.17  Culture minister: sale of Lety pig farm is “done deal”
26.07.17  Culture Minister says buyout of controversial pig farm at Lety only weeks away
13.07.17  Archaeologists map out precise contours of Nazi-era Lety concentration camp
26.06.17  Activists meet at Lety to keep pressure on government to remove controversial pig farm
08.12.16  Project aimed at fighting hate crime acquires fresh urgency in light of migrant crisis
04.12.16  Terne Chave – a Romany band with a difference
14.11.16  Romany soccer team face hatred more or less all the time, says FC Roma co-director Tomáš Bojar
08.11.16  Council of Europe: Czech Republic violating Social Charter
08.11.16  Culture minister: Important hurdle falls on the way to a buyout of the pig-farm at Lety
Archive of the section

Most popular articles
1626368   26.02.00 Some Basic Information about the Roma Population in the Czech Republic
282356   27.01.05 The 'Devouring': A look at the Romani Holocaust
162302   26.02.00 The History and Origin of the Roma
131786   26.02.02 The Language of the Roma
101347   02.06.03 The Roma Holocaust
95652   26.02.00 The Traditional Family Life of the Czech Roma
91921   13.06.00 The History of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic
86339   21.02.04 Extreme right activists demonstrate for skinhead in jail
84582    World famous Roma Personalities
72066    Photographs by Romani Children
Copyright © Český rozhlas / Czech Radio, 1997-2017
Vinohradská 12, 120 99 Praha 2, Czech Republic
E-mail: info@romove.cz