Action for Race Equality

National Independent Advisory Group merges with Action for Race Equality

Action for Race Equality today announces that the National Independent Advisory Group (NIAG) will be wrapping up its criminal justice activities under the EQUAL banner/branding. The announcement comes after 5 years of EQUAL’s work influencing policy-change across policing, prisons, probation and the youth justice system.

Following an independent review of EQUAL and our criminal justice work in 2021, a decision was made to merge the work of the NIAG under Action for Race Equality’s branding and activities. 

Jeremy Crook OBE, CEO of Action for Race Equality commented:  

An independent review conducted in 2021 into EQUAL and our criminal justice activities found that Black and Asian led organisations should have a greater voice at the national level and especially on ARE’s criminal justice direction. We are now addressing this in our own network by identifying and working more closely with organisations previously involved in EQUAL. 

The review also found there was confusion between EQUAL and ARE. EQUAL is an initiative and not an organisation, and we can see why this confusion arose with our stakeholders and the public. 

The NIAG will remain a tremendous policy resource, and we value the expertise and commitment of the members. We will continue to support the NIAG whilst strengthening our links with grassroots organisations.” 

The NIAG was first set up nearly a decade ago in 2014 by Action for Race Equality (formerly known as the Black Training and Enterprise Group), to tackle race inequality in the criminal justice system. It was first called the Young Review Independent Advisory Group, and was set up following recommendations from the Young Review.

Neena Samota, Senior Lecturer and Director of Criminology at St Mary’s University Twickenham, has long been involved in EQUAL and the National Independent Advisory Group. She said:

I have been on the advisory group for EQUAL and, before that, on the Young Review. Both groups were facilitated by Action for Race Equality and much has been accomplished in influencing policy change in relation to prisons, probation and youth justice. Since 2014, ARE (then the Black Training and Enterprise Group) has aimed to address racial disparity in criminal justice by building collective capacity in bringing together stakeholders from the voluntary and community sector, statutory sector, academia and funders.

This has helped to turn knowledge held collectively by our communities into meaningful action when it comes to policy change across criminal justice. ARE continues to play a key role in bridging the gap between Black and minoritised communities and policy makers, presenting opportunities for policy reform, and stimulating community involvement on issues of crime, victimisation, and criminal justice.”

Jess Mullen, former EQUAL national independent advisory group member and co-author of the ‘Young Review: Improving outcomes for young Black and Muslim men report said:

The influencing undertaken by EQUAL and its precursor the Young Review, has been essential in putting and keeping race inequality in the criminal justice system on the policy agenda. 

ARE’s renewed focus on achieving positive change, alongside the voices of organisations led by and focused on racially minoritised people in the criminal justice system, is all the more important at a time when government is failing to prioritise race equality despite the disproportionate numbers and unequal outcomes for racially minoritised people in the care of the criminal justice system persisting.” 

The National Independent Advisory Group is made up of a dedicated team working collaboratively to help those developing criminal justice practice and policy. We work closely with His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, the Ministry of Justice, the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime and the Metropolitan Police Service, to create a fairer system for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. The NIAG’s members include representatives from Prison Reform Trust, Zahid Mubarak Trust, Wipers CIC, the Ministry of Justice, St Mary’s University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Maslaha and University of Suffolk. The NIAG is a key legacy of EQUAL and the Young Review.

We would like to thank all our members, and our funders, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Esmee Fairbairn and Lankelly Chase, for making possible our work over the years.

This Autumn, Action for Race Equality is inviting new members to join the NIAG.

As the NIAG approaches its 10-year anniversary, ARE hopes to welcome three new members to the advisory group to help continue its work to tackle racism in the criminal justice system.

There is no strict eligibility criteria to become a member of the NIAG, however applicants must be able to demonstrate work done that positively impacts Black, Asian, Mixed heritage, Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and Muslim people and communities.

If you are interested in joining the NIAG, please send an expression of interest to by 10th January 2024. This should include:

We aim to respond to all applicants with decisions by the end of January 2024

About EQUAL and the NIAG

Action for Race Equality provided secretariat support for EQUAL from 2014 – 2023.   

The National Independent Advisory Group charts its origins back to the Young Review of December 2014, steered by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey and a group of experts and practitioners. This Review and its ensuing report gave a comprehensive insight into the disproportionality of Black and Muslim men within the criminal justice system. It made trailblazing recommendations to inoculate against racial bias within the CJS.  

One of the recommendations of the Report was to set up an independent advisory group which was established with experts from various fields of the criminal justice system. The Young Review Independent Advisory Group oversaw the implementations of the recommendations from the Young Review. Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey chaired the ‘Young Review Advisory Group’ until stepping down in 2018   when the initiative rebranded to EQUAL.  

ARE makes the announcement following a series of key milestones in criminal justice which have made clear the ingrained nature of racial inequality and racism in the UK’s criminal justice system. These include reflections 5 years since the Lammy Review recommendations, 30 years since the death of Stephen Lawrence, the launch of the Alliance for Police Accountability (for which ARE acts as secretariat), and renewed calls from the civil sector to address institutional racism across policing following a series of high profile cases as outlined in the Casey Review into the Metropolitan Police.

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