"There are many complex factors at play"
Six years after the landmark Lammy Review in 2017, it has been shown that race and ethnicity continue to have a “significant” impact on how individuals are treated in the justice system.
According to the latest research, defendants from minority groups are more likely than white British people to be ordered to crown court for trial and to be held in jail when they appear.
Minority ethnic groups had lower or comparable conviction rates, however, it was shown that they are more likely to be given imprisonment and lengthy jail terms.
According to the research funded by EQUAL, a national independent advisory committee that is a member of the charity Action for Race Equality (ARE), demographics, socioeconomic positioning, and case variables were insufficient to explain the differences.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data study revealed that defendants who identified themselves as Chinese were 60% more likely to be kept on remand than defendants who identified themselves as white British.
The percentages were 37% for “other white,” 22% to 26% for “mixed,” and 15% to 18% for Black people.
For Chinese defendants, a jail sentence was 41% more probable, 22% for the mixed white and Black African groups, between 16% and 21% for Asian groups, and between 9% and 19% for Black defendants.
Jeremy Crook OBE, chief executive of ARE, told the media:
“Six years since David Lammy MP’s bold and vital review, which laid bare the extent of racial disparities across the whole criminal justice system, this new research shows we are a long way from a fair system.
“Those who remain sceptical of the reality of structural inequalities across our public institutions often ask for data and proof.
“Well, here it is from the MoJ’s crown and magistrates’ courts databases: race remains a significant factor in the harsher outcomes faced by ethnic minorities.
“We, like many in the community, voluntary and civil sector, urge the government to tackle racism in the courts and across all levels of the criminal justice system.”
As per David Lammy’s independent study from 2017, there was “bias” and “overt discrimination” against those who identified as Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic in several areas of the criminal justice system.
According to the MP, defendants in this group are almost 240% more likely to be sentenced to jail for drug offences than white criminals.
The new analysis discovered that individual criminal justice system decision-makers were not primarily to blame for results that were “based on stereotypes” and “caused certain groups to be viewed as more dangerous and blameworthy for their offences.”
The researchers state: “Individual decisions are embedded within systemic, institutional, political, and cultural processes which interact to produce racism and ethnic inequalities.”
Jeremy Crook, who is also vice chair of EQUAL, added:
“We welcome the research findings which, once again, highlight significant systemic race disparities in the criminal justice system.”
“We call on the police, magistrates and judges in the judiciary and the probation service to examine the data and consider our recommendations as a matter of urgency.
“There are many complex factors at play in and outside courtrooms including negative racial stereotypes, conscious and unconscious bias and variable quality pre-sentence reports.
“Implementing the recommendations will help to remove avoidable and damaging race disparities in remand and sentencing.”