The Government has launched a major review into racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice System (CJS)
The Prime Minister has asked David Lammy, a former barrister and Labour MP for Tottenham, to head up the crucial investigation into why there is such a disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people serving custodial sentences.
‘If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university,’ David Cameron wrote in the Sunday Times.
Separately, announcing the review, he added: ‘It’s disgraceful that if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white.
‘We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination.’
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, there is now a greater disproportionality in the number of black people in UK prisons than in the US.
Figures obtained from the Prison Reform trust indicate that:
- BAME people make up around 28 per cent of prisoners, but only 14 per cent of the wider population of England and Wales.
- The greatest disparity is with black Britons – 10 per cent of prisoners are black, whilst the group only represent 2.8 per cent of the general population.
- Asians make up six per cent of the national prison population.
- Black prisoners account for the largest number of minority ethnic prisoners – 49 per cent.
- A disproportionate amount of BAME people are crown court defendants – 24 per cent.
- BAME defendants who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders – 61 per cent, as opposed to 56 per cent.
Lammy, the son of Guyanese parents who was brought up near the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, was the first black Briton to study at Harvard. He has been asked to deliver his report in spring 2017.
‘I’ve been working in this area for almost two decades and am very pleased to lead this comprehensive, independent review across our criminal justice system,’ he said.
‘With over a quarter of the prison population coming from a BAME background, the urgency here is clear.’