In March 2020 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published ‘Tackling Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: 2020 Update’. This update sets out the work that has taken place since the Lammy Review recommendations published in 2017.
EQUAL welcomes the Secretary of State for Justice’s commitment to tackling the systemic racial inequalities in the Criminal Justice System (CJS). The Minister’s leadership matters greatly and without it we are unlikely to see the necessary transformation within Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS) and Youth Justice Board (YJB). We recognise the important work that has been undertaken and we will continue to work with the MOJ/HMPPS to reduce racial disparities.
The EQUAL National Independent Advisory Group works collaboratively to improve outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and Muslim offenders and to help bring about race equality in the criminal justice system.
This response primarily focuses on EQUAL’s areas of focus: BAME young people in the youth justice and prisons and probation. EQUAL focuses on these because of the persistent and significant race disparities.
When does the Government expect CJS race disparities to start reducing?
September 2021 marked four years since the publication of the Lammy Review and seven years since the publication of The Young Review. The MOJ update states it will take time to see evidence of a reduction in racial disparities across the CJS. EQUAL would welcome a clear indication from the MOJ about when BAME communities can expect to see evidence of improvements for BAME individuals in the justice system, particularly young people.
Resources to support equalities
EQUAL is concerned that the Lammy agenda continues to be seen as an add-on to a list of operational priorities, particularly in the prison service where there is significant pressure on human resources. The update makes little reference to new resources being found to support the implementation and embedding of new measures and policy improvements, apart from the BAME Leaders Scheme.
Improved ethnicity data collection needs to be matched with improved support for leaders and managers so they can explain and discuss race disparities performance with their teams and, if necessary, implement interventions to support behaviour change. For example, each prison and probation unit should have a dedicated lead for race equality to support leaders, staff and offenders.