Parole Board has no black people among 240 members
The body responsible for deciding whether prisoners can be released into the community has no black members out of 240 currently in position, it has been revealed.
Caroline Corby, the chair of the Parole Board, has said she fears unconscious bias could be behind the absence of black members and the low number of minority ethnic people.
Corby also said that the board had suffered a “loss of confidence” following the case of John Worboys, the black-cab serial rapist whom the board had deemed safe to be released after around a decade. The decision was later reversed by the high court.
Corby said she was concerned about the lack of diversity on the board, which consists of 240 members, 13 of whom are of Asian or minority ethnic background.
She told the BBC: “We’re very keen to have as many people with a BAME background apply to us as possible. We learnt lessons from our last recruitment round because we had the same objective and we weren’t successful.”
She said there were not enough BAME applicants during the last recruitment round and those who did apply did “very poorly” in the first two stages of the five-stage process for “reasons we don’t entirely understand”.
“But I think there must have been some kind of unconscious bias in those processes. We’re not going to have those processes next time around.”
She said it was hard to gauge whether members were being more risk-averse following the Worboys case, but the release rate had dropped from 49% to 42% in the immediate aftermath of the case and had since risen to 46%, with more adjournments and deferrals.
Corby said: “It was obviously a very difficult period for the board.
“We saw the departure of our previous chair in difficult circumstances. The board was subject to an unprecedented amount of publicity … and I think there was a loss of confidence amongst ourselves a little bit, perhaps a loss of confidence in the wider public, and that is something I am very keen to repair.”