The MP leading a review into possible bias against ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system will visit a court to gather evidence today (13 April 2016).
The Rt Hon David Lammy MP will observe proceedings at Wood Green Crown Court for the review, which was announced by the Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year.
With significant overrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system, the review will consider their treatment and outcomes to identify and help tackle potential bias or prejudice.
The Rt Hon David Lammy MP said:
I will leave no stone unturned for this root-and-branch review, which will scrutinise every stage of the criminal justice system.
We know that guilty defendants from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to face prison sentences at the end of court cases – it’s my job to find out why.
Seeing justice work at first hand will be a key part of that, and I look forward to observing the court’s proceedings as part of this visit.
People from BAME backgrounds make up 14% of the population in England and Wales, but represent a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%).
Those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%), and BAME people make up over a quarter of the prison population.
Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said:
It is absolutely essential that the justice system treats people from all backgrounds equally.
A higher proportion of black people are sentenced to custody for a crime than white people.
That fact leaves questions that need to be answered, and I welcome this review and look forward to its conclusions.
Reporting back in spring 2017, David Lammy has been asked for recommendations to ultimately reduce the proportion of BAME individuals in the criminal justice system and make sure that all suspects and offenders are treated equally, whatever their ethnicity.
The review will address issues arising from the point of arrest onwards, including through the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, in order to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond.