Criminals should face ‘race-blind’ prosecutions to tackle discrimination, landmark review recommends

Opposition lawmaker David Lammy, who headed the research, said young offenders from ethnic minority backgrounds will become “the next generation” of adult criminals if the justice system fail to reform itself. “We will look at what more we can do to ensure all defendants are aware that their solicitor is completely independent of the police or other criminal justice agencies, and that their efforts are entirely directed to achieving the best possible result for their client within the law and in the circumstances of the case”.

BAME men and women make up 25 per cent of the prison population in England and Wales – and over 40 per cent of young people in custody – despite the fact that only 14 per cent the general population is BAME.

Guilty pleas carry a “discount” of up to a third at the sentencing stage, but black and ethnic minority offenders are so distrustful of the system that they refuse to admit culpability.

Lammy concludes: “The disproportionate number of BAME young people in the justice system is a social timebomb”.

As well as citing an imbalance in the makeup of prison inmates, the review also has damning findings on youth justice, something Lammy says is his “biggest concern”.

In an open letter to Theresa May though, Lammy said it is “clear” BAME people still suffer discrimination from the Crown Prosecution Service and calls for increased and more nuanced scrutiny at every level of the justice system – just as jurors “must justify their opinions to one another”. “As the Prime Minister said, if you’re Black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. It is beyond time to stop talking about this problem and to act”.

Black people living in England and Wales are statistically more likely to be in prison than those living in the USA, according to a report by the Labour MP David Lammy.

Lammy spoke about the community based causes of disproportionality, saying: “The criminal justice system has deep-seated issues to address, but there is only so much it can do”.

“Communities must take greater responsibility for the care and development of their people – failing to do so only damages society as a whole”.

“To reverse the problem of bias, Lammy said that younger defendants” immaturity should be taken into account in sentencing and that criminal records should be sealed to help former offenders find work, rather than be caught in a vicious cycle.

“We need a more flexible approach which recognises when people no longer pose a risk to society and gives a chance to start afresh”. Our dedicated coverage of Labour’s policies and personalities, internal debates, selections and elections relies on donations from our readers.

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