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Hundreds of responses inform Lammy race review

The first stage of a ground-breaking investigation into race and ethnic bias in the criminal justice system is now complete.

Over 300 responses have been submitted to David Lammy MP in his investigation into the over-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system.

The review - which has cross-party support - will make recommendations to tackle potential bias or prejudice in the criminal justice system when it reports in spring 2017.

The Rt Hon David Lammy MP said:

My team has been working to determine the facts, visiting our prisons and courts to understand why over a quarter of the prison population comes from a BAME background.

The call for evidence has generated a huge response from a wide range of voices. We are now carefully considering the findings to make sure all suspects and offenders are treated equally, regardless of ethnicity.

The independent review has allowed the Tottenham MP to scrutinise all parts of the system in detail. This includes the role of the Crown Prosecution Service, the youth justice system, sentencing decisions, custody and rehabilitation services.

Since the review began, David Lammy and his team have visited HMP Grendon, HMP Feltham, HMP Brixton and HMP Pentonville.

At HMP Brixton, prisoners discussed the legal advice they received and how their cultural background can affect their rehabilitation. At HMP Feltham, David Lammy met with the chaplaincy and discussed issues around gang association in prison and youth services.

The review has also featured roundtable events and interviews with key individuals from across England, Wales and the USA, which David Lammy visited to investigate the high number of BAME individuals in their justice system.

Issues raised in the UK include the effect of public perception of gang culture on young men in the justice system, while in the United States David Lammy investigated alternative approaches to custody, such as problem-solving courts.

The MP also visited a number of courts, including Wood Green and Sheffield Crown Courts and Highbury Magistrates’ Court, where he discussed how the diversity of the judiciary and legal profession affects trust in the justice system.

The Rt Hon David Lammy MP said:

We’ve had hundreds of responses from across the criminal justice system, from prisoners to judges, as well as from important groups fighting for equality in our courts and prisons.

My team will use this evidence to help focus the review on the areas which matter most.

BAME individuals make up over a quarter of prisoners in England and Wales - compared with 14% of the wider population.

Latest figures show that BAME individuals make up a disproportionate number of Crown Court defendants (24%), and those found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).