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Tackling racial disparity in the Criminal Justice System 2020 Update - Includes progress responding to the Lammy review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System

February 2020

When Government responded in December 2017 to the Lammy Review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System, we committed to embedding a programme of work to address racial disparity within the CJS. There is now a wide-ranging programme of work in place – both responding to the 35 specific recommendations made by David Lammy MP and work taking the agenda above and beyond this. This publication follows a previous comprehensive update in 2018. There remains an over-representation of ethnic minorities within the Criminal Justice System, and disparities in aspects of their treatment, which Government is determined to challenge and change. The Lammy Review offered a concerning picture of our Criminal Justice System, and provided deep and valuable insight into one area of life experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. The data picture is summarised in the Race and the Criminal Justice System statistics report which was published in November 2019. The systemic nature of disproportionality means that progress in tackling it is incremental and positive outcomes will take time to be reflected in official statistics. While progress in some areas will take time, it is nonetheless clear that the case to address disparities remains compelling.

Some principles inform our work, including:

1. a focus on ‘explain or reform’ – a structured approach to identify and address racial disparities, with a critical focus on solutions

2. working together with communities, individuals with lived experience and expert organisations, to identify the problems and work together on solutions

3. responsibility for tackling disparities being shared by all in the Criminal Justice System – striving for racial equality is not just an issue for those who are directly affected by it

4. a commitment to transparency and accountability in our work

A note on Terminology: We will use a range of terminology on race and ethnicity in this publication and at the same time recognise that no single term can encompass all lived experiences of all people, and many terms have fraught and complicated histories that elicit emotive responses. The term Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) is widely used within the Criminal Justice System to describe people who represent diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. We understand that this term leaves little room for individuality or distinction, and are aware of the limitations of this term, and thus try wherever possible to put information into proper context or talk more specifically where a particular group is affected. For the purposes of this publication, we intend the most inclusive meaning in terms of the range of people of different races and ethnicities signified by ‘BAME’, and recognise that there is huge diversity within this term, the ‘ethnic minority’ category, and in preferences on language. As a note on best practice, where we refer to ‘Race’ we refer to those perceivable physical characteristics (inherited by birth) under which people have been historically categorised (Black, White, Asian, etc.). When we refer to ‘Ethnicity’ we can – depending on context – be referring to people with shared languages, cultures, religions, norms, practices, and lived realities (Judaism, Irish and Gypsy Roma Travellers, Han Chinese, etc.). As mentioned, these terms are not airtight and given the intricacies of human society there is much overlap. We are therefore working to use terminology critically and with an awareness of its limitations in signifying the breadth of the population.

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Related Resources:

1) The Lammy Review - An Independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System

2) Tackling racial disparity in the Criminal Justice System: 2018 Update - Includes progress responding to the Lammy review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and Minority ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System, one year on.

3) David Lammy open letter to the Prime Minister