This report provides information about how members of all ethnic groups, including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, were represented in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in England and Wales in the most recent years for which data were available, and, wherever possible, in the preceding four years.
Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 requires the Government to publish statistical data to assess whether any discrimination exists in how the CJS treats individuals based on their ethnicity.
These statistics are used by policy makers, the agencies who comprise the CJS and others (e.g. academics, interested bodies) to monitor differences between ethnic groups, and to highlight areas where practitioners and others may wish to undertake more in-depth analysis. The identification of differences should not be equated with discrimination as there are many reasons why apparent disparities may exist. The main findings are:
Victims of crime
The 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that adults from self-identified Mixed, Black and Asian ethnic groups were more at risk of being a victim of personal crime than adults from the White ethnic group. This has been consistent since 2008/09 for adults from a Mixed or Black ethnic group; and since 2010/11 for adults from an Asian ethnic group. Adults from a Mixed ethnic group had the highest risk of being a victim of personal crime in each year between 2008/09 and 2012/13.
Homicide is a rare event, therefore, homicide victims data are presented aggregated in three-year periods in order to be able to analyse the data by ethnic appearance. The most recent period for which data are available is 2009/10 to 2011/12.
The overall number of homicides has decreased over the past three three-year periods. The number of homicide victims of White and Other ethnic appearance decreased during each of these three-year periods. However the number of victims of Black ethnic appearance increased in 2006/07 to 2008/09 before falling again in 2009/10 to 2011/12.
For those homicides where there is a known suspect, the majority of victims were of the same ethnic group as the principal suspect. However, the relationship between victim and principal suspect varied across ethnic groups. In the three-year period from 2009/10 to 2011/12, for victims of White ethnic appearance the largest proportion of principal suspects were from the victim’s own family; for victims of Black ethnic appearance, the largest proportion of principal suspects were a friend or acquaintance of the victim; while for victims of Asian ethnic appearance, the largest proportion of principal suspects were strangers.
Homicide by sharp instrument was the most common method of killing for victims of White, Black and Asian ethnic appearance in the three most recent three-year periods. However, for homicide victims of White ethnic appearance hitting and kicking represented the second most common method of killing compared with shooting for victims of Black ethnic appearance, and other methods of killing for victims of Asian ethnic appearance.
In 2011/12, a person aged ten or older (the age of criminal responsibility), who self-identified as belonging to the Black ethnic group was six times more likely than a White person to be stopped and searched under section 1 (s1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and other legislation in England and Wales; persons from the Asian or Mixed ethnic group were just over two times more likely to be stopped and searched than a White person.
Despite an increase across all ethnic groups in the number of stops and searches conducted under s1 powers between 2007/08 and 2011/12, the number of resultant arrests decreased across most ethnic groups. Just under one in ten stop and searches in 2011/12 under s1 powers resulted in an arrest in the White and Black self-identified ethnic groups, compared with 12% in 2007/08. The proportion of resultant arrests has been consistently lower for the Asian self-identified ethnic group.
In 2011/12, for those aged 10 or older, a Black person was nearly three times more likely to be arrested per 1,000 population than a White person, while a person from the Mixed ethnic group was twice as likely. There was no difference in the rate of arrests between Asian and White persons.
The number of arrests decreased in each year between 2008/09 and 2011/12, consistent with a downward trend in police recorded crime since 2004/05. Overall, the number of arrests decreased for all ethnic groups between 2008/09 and 2011/12, however arrests of suspects from the Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups peaked in 2010/11.
Arrests for drug offences and sexual offences increased for suspects in all ethnic groups except the Chinese or Other ethnic group between 2008/09 and 2011/12. In addition, there were increases in arrests for burglary, robbery and the other offences category for suspects from the Black and Asian ethnic groups.
The use of out of court disposals (Penalty Notices for Disorder and cautions) decreased each year across all ethnic groups between 2008 and 2012. This decline coincided with the replacement, in April 2008, of a target to increase offences brought to justice, with one placing more emphasis on bringing serious crime to justice. The later target was subsequently removed in May 2010.
Black persons were less likely to receive an out of court disposal for an indictable offence, and more likely to be proceeded against at magistrates’ court, than all other ethnic groups. This remained consistent between 2009 and 2012 despite the overall decrease in the proportion of out of court disposals of those formally dealt with by the CJS.
Fewer offenders entered the court system in 2012 compared with 2009, which is consistent with the decrease in the number of arrests across all ethnic groups. As a result, fewer offenders were sentenced overall.
The conviction ratio (the number of convictions divided by the number of people proceeded against) for indictable offences increased across all ethnic groups between 2009 and 2012, but has generally been higher for the White ethnic group compared with any other ethnic group during this period. These figures do not necessarily relate to the same persons, as someone can be convicted in a different year to that in which they were proceeded against.
Between 2009 and 2012, for indictable offences, there was a decrease across all ethnic groups in the proportion receiving community sentences. In contrast there was an increase for most ethnic groups in the proportion receiving an immediate custodial sentence for an indictable offence. The most common sentence outcome for White and Mixed ethnic group offenders was a community sentence, whilst for Black, Asian and Chinese or Other offenders the most common sentence outcome was immediate custody.
There are differences in the offence profile for which different ethnic groups are sentenced, reflecting differences in the patterns of proceedings. For offenders from the White and Mixed ethnic groups sentenced to immediate custody, the most common offence group between 2009 and 2012 was theft and handling stolen goods, while for Black and Asian offenders it was drug offences. For offenders from the Chinese or Other ethnic group, the most common offence up to 2010 was drug offences, and since 2011, has been theft and handling stolen goods.
The Average Custodial Sentence Length (ACSL) for indictable offences has been higher in all years between 2009 and 2012 for offenders from a BAME group compared with those from a White ethnic group. However, there are differences by offence group. For example, between 2009 and 2012, offenders from the Asian ethnic group had a consistently higher ACSL for theft and handling stolen goods and a consistently lower ACSL for sexual offences than offenders from both the White and Black ethnic groups. A range of offences of varying levels of seriousness are included within each offence group and differences in the ACSL may to a large extent be due to the different offences committed by different ethnic groups.
While the ACSL for drug offences decreased between 2009 and 2012, the number of offenders sentenced to immediate custody for drug offences has increased. This has coincided with a decrease in the use of cautions for drug offences over the same time period. The decline in the number of cautions for drug offences varied across ethnic groups, ranging from a decrease of 13% for the White ethnic group to a decrease of 29% for the Asian ethnic group. Since their introduction in 2009, the number of PNDs issued for the possession of cannabis (this is the only drug offence which is covered by a PND.) increased across all ethnic groups. For example, there was a 29% increase to persons who self-identified as Asian.
On 30 June 2012, the proportion of White offenders in the British national prison population was more than twice as high than in the foreign nationals prison population. Conversely, the proportion of Black and Asian offenders in the foreign national prison population was nearly three times as high as those in the British national prison population.
The proportion of offenders sentenced for particular offence groups do not always represent the prison population in the same way, as it does not reflect the length of sentence each offender must serve. For example, although in 2012 similar proportions of offenders of White and Black ethnicity were sentenced to immediate custody for sexual offences, on the 30 June 2012, the proportion of White prisoners serving a sentence for sexual offences was higher than for Black prisoners.
There were 192 deaths in prison in 2012, the same as in 2011, approximately 2.2 deaths per 1,000 prisoners in both years. There were differences across the ethnic groups; a higher rate of White offenders died in prison compared with the other ethnic groups. White offenders also represent the majority of self-harm incidents. Despite an overall decrease in the number of such incidents, in 2012 nearly nine out of ten self-harm incidents involved a White offender, while less than three quarters of the prison population self-identified as being White. In contrast, less than one in ten self-harm incidents in 2012 were by a BAME prisoner, despite this group representing one quarter of the prison population.
For police officers and staff and practitioners in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), National Offender Management Service and Ministry of Justice, there has been an overall reduction in the number of officers, staff or practitioners over the most recent five years (four years for the CPS). However, during this period the ethnic breakdown of staff has remained relatively stable.
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: Secretary of State for Justice; Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation; Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims; two Special Advisers; Head of Effective Sentencing; two Policy officials, Out of court disposals; Policy official, CJS Equality and Diversity Reform; Policy official, Victims; Policy official, Sentencing; Policy official, Judiciary; four press officers; seven private secretaries.
National Offender Management Service: two Policy officials, prison and probation.
Home Office: Home Secretary; two Special Advisers; Policy official on stop and search; Policy official on Police; three press officers; one statistician; one private secretary.
The Judiciary: Lord Chief Justice.
Following user feedback, we have added an extra table on prison receptions for 2012. Presenting the data in calendar year allows a more direct comparison with data presented elsewhere in that chapter and elsewhere in the report. These data can be found in table S5.05a in the supplementary tables for Chapter 5. The table can be found in the file containing the tables for Chapter 5.