David Lammy’s review shines a light on key points in the system which produce unequal outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people and makes clear recommendations for addressing these. Clinks is committed to making sure that the voluntary sector plays a vital role in making these changes a reality.
“For too long we have lived with the knowledge that racial inequality exists in our criminal justice system. We have talked about it but not enough action has been taken. Government must take the opportunity to make real change. We welcome David Lammy’s review and hope that it provides the kick-start we all desperately need to make our justice system more equal and just.” - Anne Fox, CEO of Clinks
Clinks is calling for action
- The voluntary sector has to be given a central role in the development and delivery of both policy and services to address the issues raised by David Lammy’s review. Specialist BAME organisations should play an increasing role and be supported to do so.
- The Ministry of Justice and Home Office must develop a set of minimum equality standards which take an active approach to address racial bias and apply it across all stages of the criminal justice system. This should be supported by quality data that is transparently available to the public.
- The Ministry of Justice must publish an implementation plan which sets out actions and timescales for how government and the criminal justice system will respond to David Lammy’s review.
- An advisory group to drive forward change should be established; made up of a range of representatives but crucially involving the voluntary sector and individuals with lived experience of the criminal justice system, to support a wide-ranging implementation plan.
- It is vital that government, the courts, probation service, youth offending teams and custodial settings are all led by David Lammy’s principle of ‘explain or reform’ to make inaction on racial and ethnic disparities a thing of the past.
- Her Majesty’s inspectorates of prison and probation must have an active role in monitoring the extent to which better racial equality is being promoted and delivered in custody and the community. This should include specific scrutiny of the adult and youth justice systems and the outcomes for women as well as men in the system.
As David Lammy has made clear, quality data alongside open and transparent decision making is key to ensuring fairness in the system. The actions of our criminal justice system must be open to the highest level of public scrutiny.
Increase public trust
The lack of trust in our criminal justice system, highlighted by David Lammy, cannot be underestimated. Government needs to work alongside voluntary organisations with the understanding, credibility and insight into BAME communities to tackle these issues.
Don't over-simplify the problem
David Lammy’s review highlights the complex issues faced by young black men, Muslims, women from BAME communities, and Gyspy, Traveller and Roma people. We will fail in our approach to tackle these issues if we oversimplify our response, or if we just tackle the most visible inequalities. A nuanced approach is needed, and we must take account of the specific issues relating to ethnicity, faith, culture, age, gender and other identifiers. The voluntary sector is a vital partner in this, but we need better data throughout the system to target problems and create solutions.
Support specialist BAME organisations
Specialist BAME organisations are key to ensuring that communities are properly involved in addressing these issues. They are able to engage with service users more meaningfully than mainstream services and bridge the gap between statutory services and local communities.
Clinks research shows that specialist BAME organisations are more likely to be at risk of closure than other voluntary organisations. Our state of the sector report 2017 showed that 30% BAME-led voluntary sector organisations working specifically in the criminal justice system are at risk of closure, compared to 5% of non BAME-led organisations working in the criminal justice system. This should be a warning signal to us all. Investment and support is needed to ensure that these organisations can play the role they need to.
The Young Review
The Young Review, chaired by Baroness Young of Hornsey, with the support of the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) and Clinks, is a review into improving outcomes for young black and Muslim men in the criminal justice system. Now in its second phase, the Young Review is working to take forward the recommendations from its report which was launched in December 2014. Baroness Young has written an article in the Huffington Post entitled 'How Lammy Can Help Us Rethink Our Prison System'. Read the article here