Treatment of BAME people in criminal justice system “considerably worse,” says David Lammy

THE TREATMENT of minorities in the criminal justice system has not improved since a major review in 2017, Labour MP David Lammy – who did the review – has said.

The Tottenham MP told the House of Commons Justice Committee it would be “crazy” to suggest that things had not got “considerably worse” since the findings of his review were released in September 2017.

“The fact that as we sit here this morning 51 per cent of the youth prison population is from a BAME background is something that should concern us all and is a major, major development when you look at that proportion in the public as a whole,” he said.

Former prime minister David Cameron commissioned the report as an independent review of the treatment and outcomes for BAME people in the criminal justice system. It was published in September 2017 and found that black people in the UK were four times more likely to be in prison than would be expected given the proportion of the total population.

Lammy blamed lack of diversity in the judiciary and a shortage of BAME prison governors as reasons contributing to the problem.

He added that the manner in which BAME women offenders were dealt with should be urgently reviewed.

Muslim women were a “specific cohort I found to be very vulnerable and experiencing a lot of discrimination,” he noted.

“The stigma attached to being a Muslim women in the criminal justice system, the way in which families sometimes cut off these women in the prison system – that was an area that needs a lot more exploration,” the MP said.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the department was taking efforts to tackle disproportionality in the system.

“Over the last 18 months we have undertaken a wide range of positive work on issues such as prison officer diversity and youth disproportionality, while new data we are publishing will make sure that race disparities cannot remain hidden,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

“We know there is more to do and forthcoming work will aim to address judicial diversity and introduce interventions to reduce the disproportionality experienced by young BAME people in the criminal justice system.”