I was pleased to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to lead a review of the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales to investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities.
The review was launched by the Prime Minister who was the right to point out in the Sunday Times during the weekend the alarming and worsening trend that Black and Ethnic Minority defendants were more likely to end up in jail after going through the judicial process. Furthermore he was absolutely correct to point out the under representation of the Black community at the UK’s top universities.
As I reiterated in the interview on Sky News it is shocking that it was only a few years ago when there were more students at Oxford University with the surname Smith than there were black students. In addition government figures also show BAME individuals make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%) and those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).
The review will address issues arising from the point of arrest onwards, including through the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, in order to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond.
Reporting back in spring 2017, I have been asked for recommendations to ultimately reduce the proportion of BAME individuals going to trial in the Criminal Justice System and make sure that all suspects and offenders are treated equally, whatever their ethnicity.