Image © Rt Hon. David Lammy MP

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

September 2017

My biggest concern is with the youth justice system. This is regarded as one of the success stories of the CJS, with published gures showing that, compared with a decade ago, far fewer young people are offending, reoffending and going into custody.³⁰ YOTs were established by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, with a view to reducing youth offending and reoffending and have been largely successful in fulfilling that remit. Yet despite this fall in the overall numbers, the BAME proportion on each of those measures has been rising significantly.³¹ Over the last ten years:

• The BAME proportion of young people offending for the first time rose from 11% year ending March 2006 to 19% year ending March 2016.³²

• The BAME proportion of young people reoffending rose from 11% year ending March 2006 to 19% year ending March 2016.³³

• The BAME proportion of youth prisoners has risen from 25% to 41% in the decade 2006-2016.³⁴

The system has been far too slow to identify the problem, let alone to react to it. There are isolated examples of good practice, including in some YOTs³⁶, but nothing serious or comprehensive enough to make a lasting difference. Unless something changes, this cohort will become the next generation of adult offenders.

In both the youth and adult systems, there is no single explanation for the disproportionate representation of BAME groups. For example, analysis of 2014/15 data, shows that arrest rates were generally higher across all ethnic groups, in comparison to the white group – twice as high for Black and Mixed ethnic women, and were three times higher for Black men.³⁷ Arrests are disproportionate but this does not fully explain the make-up of our youth custody population.

Other decisions have important consequences. For example, analysis of the same 2014/15 data, shows that BAME defendants were consistently more likely than White defendants to plead not guilty in court.³⁸ Admitting guilt can result in community punishment rather than custody, or see custodial sentences reduced by up to a third.³⁹ Plea decisions are an important factor in the disproportionate make-up of the prison system.

There is evidence of differential treatment that is equally problematic. For example, analysis of sentencing data from 2015 shows that at the Crown Court, BAME defendants were more likely than White defendants to receive prison sentences for drug offences, even when factors such as past convictions are taken into account.⁴⁰ Despite some areas that require further study, such as the role of aggravating and mitigating factors, there is currently no evidence- based explanation for these disparities.

In many prisons, relationships between staff and BAME prisoners are poor. Many BAME prisoners believe they are actively discriminated against and this is contributing to a desire to rebel rather than reform. In the youth system, young BAME prisoners are less likely to be recorded as having problems, such as mental health, learning difficulties and troubled family relationships, suggesting many may have unmet needs. All this hinders efforts to tackle the root causes of offending and reoffending among BAME prisoners, entrenching disproportionality.⁴¹

Probation services and YOTs are charged with managing offenders in the community and helping them start new lives. However, our criminal records regime does precisely the opposite of this. Over the last five years 22,000 BAME children have had their names added to the Police National Database.⁴² This includes for minor offences, such as a police reprimand. The result in adulthood is that their names could show up on criminal record checks for careers ranging from accountancy and financial services to plumbing, window cleaning and driving a taxi.⁴³


³⁰ Ministry of Justice, Youth justice annual statistics 2015 to 2016: supplementary tables Ch2, table 2.1 and Ch7, table 7.2 (2017) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-justice-statistics-2015-to-2016

³¹ Crime and Disorder Act 1998 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpa/1998/37/pdfs/ukpa_19980037_en.pdf

³² Ministry of Justice, Youth justice annual statistics 2015 to 2016: supplementary tables, Ch 2, table 2.6 (2017) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-justice-statistics-2015-to-2016

³³ Ministry of Justice, Youth justice annual statistics 2015 to 2016: supplementary tables, Ch 9, table 9.4 (2017) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-justice-statistics-2015-to-2016

³⁴ Ministry of Justice, Youth justice annual statistics 2015 to 2016: supplementary tables, Ch 7, table 7.9 (2017) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-justice-statistics-2015-to-2016

³⁵ Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board, Youth custody data, table 2.6 (2017) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-custody-data

³⁶ Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board. Summary Disproportionality Tool. table 1 (2011) https://www.justice.gov.uk/__data/assets/powerpoint_doc/0017/9710/introduction.PPT

³⁷ Ministry of Justice, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales, pg 12 (2016) – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-disproportionality-in-the-criminal-justice-system-in-england-and-wales

³⁸ Ministry of Justice, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales (2016) – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-disproportionality-in-the-criminal-justice-system-in-england-and-wales

³⁹ Sentencing Council, Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty plea Definitive Guideline, pg 5 (2017) – https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Reduction-in-Sentence-for-Guilty-plea-Definitive-Guide_FINAL_WEB.pdf

⁴⁰ Ministry of Justice, Associations between ethnic background and being sentenced to prison in the Crown Court in England and Wales in 2015 (2016) – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/associations-between-ethnic-background-and-being-sentenced-to-prison-in-the-crown-court-in-england-and-wales-in-2015

⁴¹ Youth Justice Board, Key characteristics of admissions to youth custody: April 2014 to March 2016 (2016) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585904/key-characteristicsadmissions-april-2014-to-march-2016_-supplementary-tables.xls

⁴² Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board. Summary Disproportionality Tool. Table 1 (2011) -https://www.justice.gov.uk/__data/assets/powerpoint_doc/0017/9710/introduction.PPT

⁴³ Disclosure & Barring Service – https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview

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Related Resources:

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) David Lammy open letter to the Prime Minister