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Friday, 08 September 2017

Call for urgent review of criminal justice race strategy after Lammy Review published

Written by Hayden Smith

Ministers have been urged to put in place a comprehensive race strategy following the publication of the Lammy review.

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "Everybody should have full trust in our criminal justice system and the Lammy Review is a major contribution to understanding the challenges we face to achieve this.

"The Government must respond to the review urgently and put in place a comprehensive race strategy with stretching targets to reduce the race inequality that is so apparent in our society."

Christopher Stacey, co-director of the charity Unlock, said the review "rightly recognises the significant negative impact that the current criminal records disclosure regime has on people's chances of finding work after they've turned their lives around".

He said: "It unnecessarily anchors people to their past, locks them out of the labour market and has a considerable financial cost to society through out-of-work benefits. The regime is in desperate need of reform."

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said it was a "seminal" report which "shows through dispassionate factual analysis our criminal justice system still discriminates when it comes to ethnicity".

He added: "But it also shows that the solutions lie in accountable, fair practice which every part of the system could achieve, and which would benefit every person caught up in the system, regardless of their race or background."

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: "All members of society, regardless of culture, heritage or the colour of their skin should be equal before the law and treated fairly by the various parts of the criminal justice system.

"It is a disgrace that racial injustice and racist practices remain embedded in our justice system.

"I hope that the many good recommendations in David Lammy's (pictured) review will be implemented quickly, and thoroughly."

Gareth Wilson, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for equality and diversity, said: "Policing is the gateway into the criminal justice system so it is vital we seek to eliminate any disproportionality in our approach.

"Disproportionality in the criminal justice system is a complex issue; David Lammy's review makes sensible recommendations for how we can better understand it and find effective solutions.

"The NPCC will now work with the College of Policing and the Home Office to consider how we can record data on ethnicity and make it available for scrutiny.

"Every chief constable agrees we have not gone far enough fast enough in making our own workforce more diverse and representative of our communities. We are working hard to speed up our progress.

"In the last two years, we've made changes to ensure black and ethnic minority people are not unfairly targeted in stop and search and to reduce the number of unproductive stop and searches, while still using it to prevent violence and knife crime.

"We will also work with the NCA (National Crime Agency) to do more to target those criminals who pull young black men into gangs and crime, recognising this can be a form of exploitation and modern slavery."

Key recommendations of the Lammy review

The Lammy review sets out a blueprint for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system. Here are some of its recommendations:

  • A "deferred prosecution" model should be introduced to provide interventions before pleas are entered.
  • Where practical identifying information should be redacted from case information passed from police to prosecutors so charging decisions are "race-blind".
  • All sentencing remarks in the Crown Court should be published in audio and/or written form to improve transparency.
  • The Government should set a clear national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025.
  • Youth offender panels should take place in community settings and have stronger emphasis on parenting.
  • A US-style system for "sealing" criminal records should be introduced so ex-offenders who show they have reformed would not need to disclose details of a past offence to prospective employers.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.