Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham 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.
Black and minority ethnic (BAME) people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. They 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 consider the treatment of BAME people and identify how to tackle potential bias or prejudice.
“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white. We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination,” Mr Cameron said. “That’s why I have asked David Lammy MP to lead a review of the over-representation of defendants from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in the criminal justice system. And this will include examining possible sentencing and prosecutorial disparity.”
Mr Lammy said he was pleased to accept Mr Cameron’s invitation to lead “this comprehensive, independent review across our criminal justice system.”
He added: “With over a quarter of the prison population coming from a BAME background the urgency here is clear. I look forward to leading a team that will evaluate what works in the UK, draw on lessons from abroad and listen to a broad range of voices from the justice system and our BAME communities.
“At present, BAME individuals currently make up over a quarter of prisoners – compared to 14% of the wider population of England and Wales.”
Mr Lammy, who will be supported by a secretariat from the Ministry of Justice and a panel of expert advisers, will submit a final report to ministers by spring 2017.