Lammy Review of BAME representation in the Criminal Justice System

David Lammy MP has published the emerging findings of his independent review into race and the criminal justice system. These emerging findings take the form of a statistical analysis paper looking at disproportionality in the criminal justice system and provide an implied acknowledgement that racism and discrimination is a problem in the criminal justice system. It even suggests that this is ground breaking research, using “evidence from the point of arrest onwards and – for the first time – applied data analysis techniques used by the US Department of Justice.”

Some of the findings to date are facts that seem familiar to us involved with the criminal justice systems for example;

  • Of those convicted at Magistrates’ Court for sexual offences, 208 black men and 193 Asian men received custodial sentences for every 100 white men.
  • BAME defendants are more likely than their white counterparts to be tried at Crown Court – with young black men around 56% more likely than their white counterparts;
  • BAME men were more than16% more likely than white men to be remanded in custody;
  • BAME men were 52% percent more likely than white men to plead ‘not guilty’ at crown court;
  • In prisons, BAME males are almost five times more likely to be housed in high security for public order offences than white men, and
  • Mixed ethnic men and women were more likely than white men and women to have adjudications for breaching prison discipline brought against them – but less likely to have those adjudications proven when reviewed.
  • 51% of the UK-born BAME population agree that ‘the criminal justice system discriminates against particular groups’, compared to 35% of the UK-born white population;
  • 41% of youth prisoners are from minorities backgrounds, compared with 25% ten years ago, despite prisoner numbers falling by some 66% in that time;
  • The number of Muslim prisoners has almost doubled in the last decade

This is a big review, and they have visited stakeholders across England and Wales, as well as undertaking fact-finding trips to the US, Australia and New Zealand, trying to addresses the following research questions:

  • Where is disproportionate BAME contact with the CJS more pronounced?
  • To what extent is disproportionate BAME contact with the CJS paralleled in the youth system compared to the adult system?
  • To what extent is disproportionate BAME contact with the CJS paralleled for males and females?

The question that does not get included into the review is around the impact of the discrimination upon the victims of that discrimination. For example, what is the impact upon BME individuals and their families of the initial arrest, being sent to Crown Court, only to be released at trial at Crown Court?  It is decades of peoples lives being ruined that is shared amongst Black and Asian communities, these experiences inform them what to expect from the criminal justice system. The absence of victims voices from the research, indeed from much criminology research nowadays has meant that these voices only get through campaigns. This is a glaring omission from the research which needs to be addressed. The discussions within the criminal justice system need to connect people’s experiences of the bias witnessed in criminal justice and connect this to endemic racism and discrimination in wider society.


You can read the Lammy review here 


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