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Race discrimination evident in criminal justice system, commission finds

Race inequality remains far-reaching and entrenched in 21st century Britain with unfairness present in many areas of our society, a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found.

The review into race inequality in Great Britain looks across every area of people’s lives including education, employment, housing, pay and living standards, health, criminal justice, and participation. It examines where progress is being made, where things are stalling and where things are going backwards or falling short.

“It is indefensible that in 21st century Britain, Black workers with degrees earn over 23 per cent less on average than White workers with degrees; and if you are Black in England you are more than three times more likely to be a victim of murder and four times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police,” said David Isaac commission chair in the foreword to the report.

“Fear of crime is also much higher for many ethnic minorities, as is the likelihood of living in poverty with poor housing and experiencing worse health outcomes,” he added.

The report found:

  • Black and Mixed ethnicity defendants were also more likely to be remanded in custody than White defendants.
  • Black people in England in 2012/13 were less likely than White respondents to report being confident that the criminal justice system respects the rights of those accused of an offence and treats them fairly.
  • Those who considered themselves to be from an ethnic minority were twice as likely to be stopped and searched as those who considered themselves to be White.
  • In England/Wales, ethnic minority adults and children are more likely to be a victim of homicide than White adults and children.
  • Race remains the most commonly recorded motivation for hate crime, at 82% of recorded motivations.
  • 1,993 racially motivated hate crimes recorded in 2015, which is an average of 5.5 per day.
  • In England, Black (37.4%) and Asian or ‘Other’ ethnic groups (44.8%) were more likely to feel unsafe being alone at home and/or in their local area compared with White groups (29.2%) in 2012/13.
  • In custody, ethnic minorities were significantly more likely to be restrained than White people.

Isaac said: “The evidence demonstrates inequalities experienced by ethnic minority communities across many areas of life in modern Britain, including education, employment and the criminal justice system.

“Poorer White communities also face continuing disadvantage. The persistent nature of these issues points to the existence of structural injustice and discrimination in our society. We must tackle this with the utmost urgency if we are to heal the divisions in our society and prevent an escalation of tensions between our communities,” he added.

The commission calls for the UK Government to put in place a race strategy with clear accountability and governance to improve opportunities and outcomes for people from ethnic minority communities.

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon commended the commission “for this important piece of work”.

She added: “Everyone must be equal before the law. This report raises serious concerns, which the government needs to consider and respond to as a matter of urgency.

“Fundamental rights to a fair trial, availability of representation and access to justice are essential for those most at risk. Race inequality goes beyond the processes and procedures of the criminal justice system,” she concluded.

Healing a divided Britain




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