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British justice system 'discriminates against ethnic minorities'

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British justice system 'discriminates against ethnic minorities'

Post Neon Knight on Sun 10 Sep - 23:37

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41191311 Abridged:

Young offenders from ethnic minorities will become "the next generation" of criminals unless the justice system is reformed, says MP David Lammy. A review led by him found the system in England and Wales is biased and discriminates in treatment of people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds make up 25% of the prison population in England and Wales and 41% of the youth justice system, despite these groups being 14% of the general population, the review says.

So they are almost two times over-represented in prison and three times over-represented in the youth justice system!

It has highlighted various "concerning" statistics, including a rise in the proportion of first-time offenders from these backgrounds to 19% - up from 11% - in the past 10 years, and the same increase in the proportion of young people reoffending. Whilst he does not believe all of the blame lies at the door of the justice system, noting the "broadly proportionate" decision on charging by the Crown Prosecution Service, Mr Lammy said: "It is clear to me that BAME individuals still face bias."

Despite all the anti-racism legislation we have now. So are they really dicriminated against?

Trust is one of the major issues, according to the report. It says individuals from these backgrounds do not trust the advice provided by their solicitors or police officers when it comes to pleading guilty.

As a result, the rate of black defendants pleading not guilty in Crown Courts between 2006 and 2014 was 41%, compared with 31% for white defendants - leading to more trials and longer sentences.

Also, when in prison, many BAME men and women believe they are actively discriminated against, which Mr Lammy says "contributes to an atmosphere of 'us' and 'them' and an urge to rebel, rather than reform".

The report points out black children are more than twice as likely to grow up in a lone parent family, and black and mixed ethnic boys are more likely than white boys to be permanently excluded from school. Mr Lammy said the youth justice system seemed to have "given up on parenting" - saying behind many young offenders are adults who neglect or exploit them.

Mr Lammy said responsibility must be taken by adults - and the youth justice system "should be more rooted in local communities" where parents can play a stronger role. Prisons are products of society, he said: "The criminal justice system has deep-seated issues to address, but there is only so much it can do.

Malcolm Richardson, chairman of the Magistrates Association, said there was not sufficient evidence to pinpoint why the disparity occurs, but he agreed the lack of trust in the system needed to be addressed.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission urged the government to respond "urgently" and put in place a comprehensive race strategy with targets to reduce race inequality. Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said Mr Lammy's recommendations could "play an important role in eradicating discrimination".

Justice Secretary David Lidington said the government would "look very carefully" at the review's findings and recommendations before responding fully."

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