ARE believes that equal treatment under the law is a fundamental aspect of the criminal justice system that is consistently denied to young people who are Black, Asian or of Mixed Heritage. In recent years much of our work in this area has been through the EQUAL programme which has been running since 2014.
When Jeremy Crook chaired a workshop on behalf of the RDU who were contributing to Home Office consultation on policing and stop and search in Birmingham, we heard a strong message about the impact of stop and search on young Black, Asian people. Participants spoke about the impact on community relations between black people and the Police. Inadequately trained police officers conducting stop and searches without sufficient and robust intelligence was a theme which resonated in further EQUAL activities in Manchester and London.
The Young Review
The Young Review launched in December 2014 with a report which gave a comprehensive insight into the disproportionality of BAME people and Muslim men within the criminal justice system (CJS). It made trailblazing recommendations to inoculate against racial bias within the CJS.
One of the recommendations of the report was set up an independent advisory group which was established with experts from various fields of the criminal justice system. YRIAG oversaw the implementations of the recommendations from the Young Review. Baroness Lola Young Steered YRIAG for six years before stepping down as Chair in 2018. To continue the important legacy of the Young Review, Iqbal Wahhab OBE was appointed as Chair of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group which was rebranded and renamed as EQUAL.
EQUAL vision and mission
Our vision is a criminal justice system that delivers fair outcomes for all.
Our purpose is to help those involved in the development and delivery of criminal justice practice and policy to create a system free from unfair outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic people. We believe that action must be taken to address the issues that lead to unjust experiences and outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic people in the criminal justice system.
To address the poorer outcomes experienced by BAME groups and Muslims in the criminal justice system.
Policy priority areas
- Prisons and probation
- Policing of BAME young people
- Youth justice system
One of the big achievements of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group is the relationship EQUAL has developed with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison Service particularly around the implementation of the Lammy Review. The Advisory Group is as a key partner and scrutineer of the delivery of the recommendations in David Lammy’s report.
The Chair and advisory group members, whilst valuing the importance of working closely with government, wanted to see Equal challenge policy that perpetuates ethnic disparities. So the policy priorities identify themes such as working with government on the use of the Public Sector Equality Duty in our criminal justice system institutions.
We argued for reform of the Gang’s Matrix through the Mayor of London’s review of the Matrix. EQUAL saw the Information Commissioner’s report as a wake up call for all of our CJS institutions to the dangers of systemically perpetuating the criminalisation of minority groups.
We continue to progress this agenda of working productively with the MOJ/HMPPS in implementing the Lammy agenda, and to challenge injustice whilst building partnerships across civil society and academia to further our aims.
Read Perspectives on legal action and speaking truth to power from guest contributors: Carys Coleman and Sharon Anyiam, The Racial Justice Network (Take Action participants, July 2021) on the EQUAL website.