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Government to tackle racial bias in justice system

PICTURED: David Lammy (Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

IN A response to David Lammy's report on differential treatment and outcomes for those from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, the Ministry of Justice has agreed to carry forward most of the Labour MP’s recommendations.

According to The Guardian, Lammy – who called to attention that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) men and women represent 25% of prisoners despite making up just 14% of the population – welcomed the government’s commitments but criticised its refusal to set diversity targets for a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025.

“BAME individuals still face bias – including overt discrimination – in parts of our justice system, which treats ethnic minorities more harshly than white Britons,” Lammy said.

“The time for talking is over and I therefore welcome the government’s clear commitment to addressing these issues and I am pleased that many of my recommendations will be acted upon.

However, he also warned that the government was inconsistent in accepting targets for diversity of prison governors while refusing to adopt them for the bench.

“I am disappointed that the government have not felt able to move forward on targets or goals to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy” he said.

“I found that the lack of diversity within our judiciary and magistracy has a significant effect on the trust deficit that I found in Britain’s BAME communities in relation to how the justice system is perceived.

“My review demonstrated the lack of progress over the last decade in improving diversity amongst the judges that sit in our courts, and I am clear that more of the same will not work.”

Taking to Twitter this morning (Dec 19), The Labour MP added: "My Review called for explain or change and the Government’s acceptance of this principle is an important step forward in acknowledging the need for reform to address the disparities that do exist in our justice system.

"Greater transparency on data will enable more scrutiny and analysis of our criminal justice system, and a more consistent approach to publishing data is a key aspect of creating a fairer justice system."

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