RACISM IN THE UK LEGAL SYSTEM – STUART HALL FOUNDATION RACE REPORT, 2021

February 4, 2021

Key statistics

  • The majority of employees in the criminal justice system in England and Wales (93.4% of police officers; 93.2% of court judges; 89.6% of tribunal judges and 94% of prison officers) come from an ethnically White background.
  • While the rates of stop-and-search have declined steadily across all ethnic groups between 2010/11 and 2016/17, Black groups continue to face the highest rates of stop- and-search by police, with the rate being eight times that of white people in 2016/17.
  • Ethnic minority groups are increasingly and disproportionately represented in the youth criminal justice system population.
  • Ethnic minority people are increasingly and disproportionately incarcerated (rising from 26% in 2008 to 45% in 2018).
  • Policy and politicians’ focus on ‘the gang’ leads to criminal justice practices against racialised communities without an evidence base. Joint Enterprise powers have also been used disproportionately against ethnic minority defendants. Stop-and-search powers continue to be used disproportionately against ethnic minority people.
  • Data analysed by Inquest shows a disproportionate number of ethnic minority people in custody compared to white people.(Taken from Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in the UK – State of the Nation, 2000, p.51)

The Scarman Report (1981) – 45 recommendations

Lord Scarman OBE was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the urban disorders that had taken place in Brixton, London between the 10th and 12th April 1981. In doing so,The Scarman Report compared the ‘social conditions’ in Brixton with those in Southall,Toxteth, Moss Side and the West Midlands, where there had also been similar disorder. In doing so, Scarman examined the role of factors ranging from housing, leisure and recreational facilities, the family, education, unemployment and discrimination.

In his report, Scarman examined:

  • The nature of the disorders.
  • The role of the police, criticisms of the police and the principles of policing.
  • Social policy in the relation to the ‘inner city’, housing and employment, and responses to ethnic minority needs and discrimination.
  • The role of the Community Relations Council and the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • The role of the media.
  • Legislative reform, especially in relation to stop and search, the ‘Sus Law’ and ‘Lay Police Station Visitors’, the case for a new ‘Riot Act’ and selective bans on public processions.
  • Reform of the police complaints procedure.In reference to the policing and police, the Scarman Report put forward recommendations in relation to: 
  • 1. Recruitment.
  • 2. Training.
    3. Supervision and monitoring.
    4. Discipline.
    5. Complaints against the police.
    6. Methods of policing.
    7. Improving consultation and accountability. 8. Policing public disorder.The Macpherson report (1999) – 70 recommendationsOn the 15th February 1999, Sir William Macpherson was asked to lead an inquiry ‘into matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence, in order to identify lessons to be learned from the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes’ (See p. 17). In his forty-six chapter report, Macpherson examined:
  • The nature of racism, in particular institutional racism and unwitting racism.
  • The initial and second investigations undertaken by the police, including the role of investigatingand senior police officers.
  • The culture inside the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry incident room.
  • Police procedures, such as house-to-house inquires, surveillance, arrests, interviews, evidence handling, family liaison, and reviews of other police investigations.
  • The role of the Racial Incident Unit.
  • Issues of corruption and collusion in the police force.
  • First aid.
  • The role of the Police Complaints Authority.
  • The role of the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • Court and legal proceedings, including the Main Committal hearing, the Criminal Court trial and the Coroner’s inquest.Macpherson also considered the impact of both Stephen’s murder and subsequent events on his parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence, as well as his friend Duwayne Brooks who had been with Stephen when he was murdered.The forty-seventh chapter of the Macpherson Report lists no fewer than eight pages of recommendations in relation to the following:
    • ‘Openness, accountability and the restoration of confidence’ in the police services.
    • The definition of a racist incident.
    • Reporting and recording of racist incidents and crimes.
    • Police practice and the investigation of racist crime.
    • Family liaison.
    • Victims and witnesses.
    • The prosecution of racist crimes.
    • Police employment and retention practices.
    • Police training, including racism awareness, valuing cultural diversity and first aid.
    • Police discipline and complaints procedures.
    • Stop and Search.
    • The role of the education system, including changes to the National Curriculum in order to promote cultural diversity, prevent racism and ‘better reflect the needs of a diverse society’ (See p. 382).The Adebowale Review (2013) – 28 recommendationsThe remit of the 2013 Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing chaired by Lord Victor Adebowale CBE was to,…review the work of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) with regard to people who have died or been seriously injured following police contact or in police custody and to make recommendations to inform MPS conduct, response and actions where mental health is, or is perceived to be, a key issue (See p. 6).

Based on case reviews, surveys, meetings and visits, the Commission offered twelve key findings (See p. 7):

Failure of the Central Communications Command to deal effectively with calls in relation to mental health.

The lack of mental health awareness amongst staff and officers.
Frontline police lack of training and policy guidance in suicide prevention.

Failure of procedures to provide adequate care to vulnerable people in custody. Problems of interagency working.
The disproportionate use of force and restraint.
Discriminatory attitudes and behaviour.
Failures in operational learning.
A disconnect between policy and practice.
The internal MPS culture.
Poor record keeping.
Failure to communicate with families.

to address these issues, the Commission put forward recommendations in relation to (See pp. 7–9): Leadership.

Recognition that mental health is ‘core business’ and ‘needs to be reflected in all policy, guidance and operating procedures’.

‘On the frontline skills, awareness and confidence of frontline staff need to improve in regards to mental health and the MPS must become a learning organisation’.

The need for the police to ‘develop a safer model of restraint’. Better information and IT systems.
Improved health care in custody.
More effective interagency working.

The Young Review (2014)

Funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, and chaired by Baroness Lola Young, the aim of the 2014 Young Review was to identify the drivers of‘ disproportionately high numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) offenders and the poor outcomes they face in the Criminal Justice System (CJS)’ (See p. 10). In particular, the Young Review focused on improving the outcomes of young Muslim men in the Criminal Justice System.

The key findings of the Young Review include (See pp. 10–11):

 ‘There is greater disproportionality in the number of Black people in prisons in the UK than in the United States.’

• ‘Muslim prisoners account for 13.4% of the prison population compared with 4.2 % in the 2011 Census…This figure has risen sharply since 2002 when Muslim prisoners were 7.7% of the prison population.’

• ‘BAME representation in the prison population is heavily influenced by age with many more young BAME male prisoners than older ones.’

 ‘In the youth estate BAME disproportionality is even starker with 43% of 15–17 year olds coming from such backgrounds.’

In response to these findings, the Young Review put forward five key recommendations:

  1. ‘Rigorously monitored mechanisms need to be developed and implemented to ensure that independent providers address the specific needs of BAME offenders’.
  2. The National Offender Management Service ‘publishes its Equality Strategy in order to a) provide transparency for all stakeholders and b) form the basis for action, to include a stringent overhaul of the approach to services for young black and/or Muslim men in the CJS’.
  3. ‘Individuals who understand the lived experience of young black and/or Muslim male offenders should play an integral part in the planning and delivery of programmes and interventions to support desistance’.
  4. ‘The emphasis should be on dedicated resources for community engagement and partnership working models in prisons, rather than commissioning frameworks and supply chains’.
  5. ‘Ministry of Justice should give consideration to potential future opportunities for legislation in regards to BAME offenders similar to that which exists to ensure that provision meets the specific needs of women offenders under the Public Sector Equality Duty [Equality Act]’.

The Angiolini Review (2017) – 110 recommendations

In January 2017, Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC published her independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody.This review explored (See p. 7):

  • ‘Events leading up to such incidents, as well as existing protocols and procedures designed to minimise the risks’.
  • ‘The immediate aftermath of a death or serious incident, and the various investigations that ensue’.
  • ‘How the families of the deceased are treated at every stage of the process’.

Dame Angiolini’s review also identified a number of areas where improvement was needed. In doing so, a series of recommendations were put forward with a view to ensuring ‘humane institutional treatment when such incidents occur’ (See p. 7).This review explored the following issues:

  1. Restraint.
  2. Intoxication.
  3. Mental health.
  4. Self-inflicted deaths.
  5. Children and young people.
  6. Race and the investigative process.
  7. Police conferral.
  8. National Health Service investigations.
  9. Medical care, inspections and the role of external agencies in relation to police custody.
  10. Police misconduct.
  11. Prosecutions.
  12. Family support.
  13. The coronial system.
  14. Sustained learning.
  15. The Independent Police Complaints Commission;
  16. Stereotypical assumptions.
  17. Other vulnerable groups, including women, homeless people, and people suffering from epilepsy and social and perception disorders.
  18. Statistics.
  19. Accountability.

Having explored these issues, Dame Angiolini put forward a wide-ranging set of recommendations to be considered by government, the police, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Coroner and other agencies involved in issues relating to deaths and serious incidents in police custody.The primary goal of these recommendation was to ‘minimise as far as possible the risks of such incidents occurring in future’, and to ensure that ‘when such incidents do occur, the procedures in place are efficient, effective, humane, and command public confidence’ (See p. 7).

The Lammy Review (2017) – 28 recommendations

Noting that a comprehensive examination of both the adult and youth justice systems was ‘overdue’ (See p. 3), the Lammy Review ‘covers the role of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the courts system, prisons and young offender institutions,the Parole Board,the Probation Service andYouth OffendingTeams (YOTS)’(See p. 3). More specifically, the Lammy Review focuses on:

  • How ‘disproportionality’ is monitored in the criminal justice system (CJS).
  • Arrest rates.
  • Charging decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • The role of plea decisions.
  • Courts.
  • Prisons.
  • Rehabilitation in the community.In relation to the above, the Lammy Review offers a series of recommendations based on the following principles:
  • Creating ‘robust systems’ that will ensure fair treatment in all par ts of the CJS.
  • Open decision-making and transparency so that the CPS can be subject to public scrutiny.
  • Rebuilding trust in the CJS, which includes dismantling the ‘us and them’ culture that exists in the CJS by addressing the ‘lack of diversity among those making important decisions’.
  • Improving the CJS’ understanding of ‘where responsibility lies beyond its own boundaries’, including doing more to work with local communities and statutory services.
  • The need for a ‘concerted approach’ that focuses more attention and enforcement on the powerful adults much further up criminal hierarchies.

You can download the full report via this page: https://www.stuarthallfoundation.org/projects/shf-race-report/

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