Race and the criminal justice system: 2014
This report compiles statistics from data sources across the Criminal Justice System (CJS), to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of different ethnic groups in England and Wales, 2014.
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Biennial statistics on the representation of ethnic groups as victims, suspects, offenders and employees in the criminal justice system.
These reports are released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and produced in accordance with arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.
This publication compiles statistics from data sources across the Criminal Justice System (CJS), to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of different ethnic groups. No causative links can be drawn from these summary statistics, and no controls have been applied to account for differences in circumstances between groups (e.g. average income or age); differences observed may indicate areas worth further investigation, but should not be taken as evidence of bias or as direct effects of ethnicity.
In general, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups appear to be over-represented at most stages throughout the CJS, compared to the White ethnic group, though this is not universal and does not appear to worsen as they progress through the system. Among BAME groups, Black and Mixed individuals were often the most over-represented. Trends over time for each ethnic group have tended to mirror overall trends, with little change in relative positions between ethnic groups.
The risk of being a victim of crime was significantly higher for BAME groups, compared to the White ethnic group. Consistently, a higher proportion of the Mixed ethnic group reported being victims of a personal crime, though this is not reflected in the number of people in the Mixed ethnic group who believed it was likely that they would be a victim of crime in the next year. Homicide rates were higher for Black victims, compared to White and Asian victims, with members of each ethnic group being most frequently killed by someone of the same group. Police records show increases in the levels of racially and religiously aggravated crimes, whereas surveys of personal victimisation show a fall in the numbers of racist incidents being experienced. (A possible explanation for this disparity could be improved recording or detection practices by the police.)
In 2013/14, compared with the White ethnic group, stops and searches were more likely to be carried out on the Black (four and a half times more likely), Mixed (twice as likely) and Asian (one and a half as likely) ethnic groups. Proportions of stops and searches resulting in arrests were also higher for the Black and Mixed groups. More generally, the Black and Mixed arrest rates per 1,000 people were almost three and two times higher respectively, compared to other ethnic groups. Of all offence groups, robbery had the largest proportion of BAME arrests (37%) and burglary the lowest (12%). No clear trend was seen in the issuing of penalty notices for disorder to BAME versus White individuals, but the Black ethnic group received cautions at three times the rate of other groups.
Relative to the population, the rates of prosecution and sentencing for the Black ethnic group were three times higher than for the White group, while for the Mixed group they were twice as high, mirroring arrests. (A similar pattern could be seen for custodial remand during Crown Court trials.) In contrast, White and Chinese and Other offenders had the highest conviction ratios, consistently for the past 5 years. There is variation in custody rates across ethnic groups and offence groups; differences in patterns of offending may well explain these. Since 2010, average custodial sentence lengths have risen for all ethnic groups, but remained consistently highest for Asian and Black offenders, and higher for all BAME groups compared to White offenders.
White - North European and Black offenders were the most likely to claim out-of-work benefits one month after conviction/caution/release from prison. White - North European offenders consistently had the highest median income from employment in the years following conviction/caution/release. The proportion of first-time offenders from each ethnic group broadly mirrors the population and has not changed substantially over the last decade.
Offenders under supervision or in custody
Rates of membership of the prison population varied greatly between ethnic groups: there were around 15 prisoners for every 10,000 people in England and Wales, similar to the White and Asian rates, but this includes only 6 prisoners for each 10,000 Chinese and Other population members, and 44 and 55 prisoners for each 10,000 Mixed and Black population members respectively. This seems to be driven by differences in prosecutions, remand and sentencing – no differences were seen in the proportion of custodial sentences served in prison – and these groups also had higher rates of probation service supervision. Mixed and Black prisoners were most likely to fight other prisoners and had the highest rates of prison discipline, while White prisoners generally were more likely to self-harm. Although there was no difference in rates of recall between ethnic groups, Black and White individuals convicted or cautioned were more likely to subsequently reoffend than Asian or Other individuals.
Differences between ethnic groups could be seen when specific offences were examined, but the differences varied by offence; typical behaviours and sentencing patterns vary between ethnic groups at an offence level (although the small numbers involved limit the ability to make fair comparisons). For example, Black and Asian offenders convicted of supplying drugs or related offences are more likely to be for Class A drugs than for Class B, whereas the opposite is true for all other ethnic groups.
BAME groups were underrepresented relative to the population among the police, National Offender Management Service, judiciary and magistracy, with proportions increasing slowly or remaining broadly the same over the last 5 years. They appear to be particularly poorly represented among senior staff throughout the CJS, consistently for the last 5 years.
The bulletin is produced and handled by the ministry’s analytical professionals and production staff. Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:
Ministry of Justice
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims; Permanent Secretary Ministry for Justice; Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Prisons, Probations and Rehabilitation; Director of Criminal Justice Policy; Director of Analytical Services and Chief Economist; Deputy Director, Sentencing Policy; Chief Statistician; Director General, Criminal Justice Group; 2 Special Advisors; Deputy Director - Rehabilitation Programme; Head of Secretariat, Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody; Head of Women and Equalities (NOMS); Head of Probation Equality; 2 Press Officers; 6 Assistant Private Secretaries; 8 Equalities Analysts
Home Secretary; Deputy Principal Private Secretary; Assistant Private Secretary; 4 Special Advisors; Press Officer; Equalities Analyst
Lord Chief Justice; Head of Lord Chief Justice’s Criminal Justice Team; Legal Advisor to the Lord Chief Justice; Assistant Private Secretary.
Head of Superintendence, Attorney Generals Office; Policy Official, Attorney Generals Office; Policy Official, Cabinet Office; Private Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office