For immediate release
BTEG welcomes the launch of David Lammy’s interim findings from his ongoing independent review of the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the Criminal Justice System (CJS).
The Review’s focus on trust, fairness and responsibility are important principles that must underpin our CJS. They are fundamentally important to BAME communities. The Review has identified evidence of much higher sentences for black men and women for serious offences in the crown courts. Ethnic disproportionality is a structural characteristic of the CJS.
We need to see a CJS workforce that better reflects the population by 2020. The government should extend its 2020 BAME employment target for police officers to include prison officers, magistrates and judges. Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary, has recognised the need for the magistracy and judiciary to be more diverse.
While policing is outside the remit of the Review, the Government has to recognise that BAME communities want to see further substantial reductions in stop and search. The disproportionate use of stop and search on BAME people continues to corrode the BAME communities’ confidence in the police and the wider justice system. According to a government survey 51% of BAME people believe the CJS discriminates against particular groups or individuals compared to 31% of white people.
Last week BTEG hosted a public meeting in Bristol on Race and the CJS and there was a strong feeling that BAME communities don’t believe the police can change. BAME people want to see more evidence of change in the way BAME individuals and communities are treated by the police, not least in the way the police use their stop and search powers. In response the Police Area Commander for Bristol said he wants to reach out and hear from the BAME community and share how the police are approach implementing stop and search.
The CJS and wider society must stop seeing young black and/or Muslim men through the lens of ‘gangs’ and ‘Islam extremism’. These negative stereotypes affect the way teachers, police, courts and prison officers view these young people. Even employers unwittingly adopt these negative stereotypes and this contributes to the high unemployment rates for these young people.
It’s problematic, but according to the Met the ‘Gangs Matrix’, or database, is informed by police and wider statutory partner intelligence, based on violence, criminal offending and gang memberships. Four in five people on the Gangs Matrix are black. This Matrix informs decisions throughout the CJS. Merely associating with other young people could place someone on the Matrix. There needs to be a clear process for young people and their families/guardians to have names taken off the Matrix in a timely manner.
There clearly needs to be a greater focus on tackling the exclusion of black boys at school. 90% of young people in custody were excluded from school at some point. Black Caribbean children have rates of permanent exclusion at about three times those for all pupils. In London, 39% of young people in youth custody are from BAME backgrounds.
We echo the Justice Select Committee’s recommendations to review the doctrine of joint enterprise and end the demoralising position of the 4000 or more offenders (around 25% of whom are from BAME groups) serving Imprisonment Public Protection (IPP) sentences with no release date and no process for this to be established.
BTEG and the Young Review Independent Advisory Group it supports will continue to work with the Lammy Review and the MOJ/NOMS to address these challenges.