Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME*) people are over represented in the criminal justice system. This needs to be addressed if we are to create a just and equal system.
People from BAME communities are more likely to be arrested and more likely to have decisions go against them in court. They are over represented in the prison population. They are more likely to be subject to adjudication or use of force, reporting poorer experiences of prison life overall. They are over represented in probation caseloads and reoffending rates.
We need better, and more consistent, responses to reduce the number of BAME people in our justice system. Some specialist voluntary sector organisations provide tailored services to BAME individuals. However, these grassroots initiatives have been particularly affected by recent cuts in public spending and rapid changes to the local policy and commissioning environment. Find out more in our State of the sector research.
Successive reviews and reports have made recommendations to address these issues. Most recently, these have included the Lammy Review into the treatment of, and outcomes for black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system, published in September 2017. The Ministry of Justice published its response to the Lammy Review in December 2017 and is currently working to implement its recommendations.
*We acknowledge that the term BAME can be problematic as it refers to a group of people who are far from homogenous. The intersection of race, ethnicity, faith, and culture makes social identities multi-faceted and shifting – the experiences of individuals within these groups will vary. Wherever possible, we seek to be specific when describing groups of people but at times use the term BAME – albeit reluctantly – to describe inequality and discrimination across groups when necessary.
BAME-led organisations, which are rooted in the communities they serve, offer tailored support to BAME individuals in the criminal justice system. These organisations are able to positively recognise and reaffirm people’s cultural identities in a way that aids desistance, and also to recognise and address experiences of discrimination, which if ignored, can be a significant obstacle to desistance.
Other voluntary sector organisations, who may not be BAME led, in some cases offer tailored services or work in partnership with BAME led organisations in recognition of the particular issues faced by BAME individuals in the criminal justice system.
Are you looking for voluntary organisations working with black, Asian and minority ethnic people? Browse our Directory of offender services
Advising the Ministry of Justice
Clinks provides the chair and secretariat for an advisory group to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group’s (RR3) purpose is to build a strong and effective partnership between voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system and the MoJ. There are currently two members of the RR3 with expertise and experience in providing specific support to black, Asian and minority ethnic people in contact with the criminal justice system.
Notes from the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) Special Interest Group on Covid-19
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We are extremely disappointed that the JCVI advice on phase 2 of the COVID vaccination programme does not prioritise people in prison and those who work with them, including voluntary sector staff and volunteers https://gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-phase-2-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-programme-advice-from-the-jcvi/jcvi-interim-statement-on-phase-2-of-the-covid-19-vaccination-programme