Eastern Eye (UK)
Study confirms racial disparities in judicial system
BLACK and minority ethnic defendants were charged at higher rates than white counterparts for similar offences, a new study found, providing evidence of disproportionality in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.
White British suspects had the lowest charge rate, with 69.9 per cent of their cases resulting in a charge. It was followed by defendants of Indian ethnicity who had a 71.8 per cent charge rate, the study commissioned by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found. While 73.5 per cent of suspects with Pakistani heritage faced charges, the figure for defendants of Bangladeshi ethnicity was 73.3 per cent. Mixed-heritage suspects had a charge rate ranging from 77.3 to 81.3 per cent.
The research, conducted by the University of Leeds for the CPS, follows the 2017 Lammy Review, which noted that people of colour were vastly over-represented in the prison population. They made up 25 per cent of prisoners despite accounting for only 14 per cement of the overall population.
There were no reasons provided for the disproportionality.
Max Hill KC, the director of public prosecutions, described the study findings as “troubling”.
“While we cannot yet identify what is driving these disparities, it is clear we must do further work to establish this as a matter of urgency. I am personally committed to ensuring we take whatever action is needed to reduce disproportionality in our service," he said.
Barrister Leslie Thomas KC said it showed the police, prosecutors and judges “do not appear to be upholding the rule of law if you are a person of colour”.
“There is disproportionality in the treatment of black and brown people at every stage of the justice system, from stop and searches, arrests, who get bail, who don’t, sentencing and treatment in prisons. The question rather is what can be done and done now to address it,” he told the Guardian. “The good news is the CPS are aware there is a problem. That is a step in the right direction because you cannot solve a problem if you are blind to it or in denial.”