Prosecutions against some black and minority-ethnic suspects should be deferred or dropped to help tackle the criminal justice system’s bias against them, according to a highly critical report written by the Labour MP David Lammy at the request of the prime minister.
Lammy said allowances should also be made for younger defendants’ immaturity and criminal records should be sealed to help former offenders find work, adding that statistics suggested discrimination in the UK was worse than in the US in some cases.
“My conclusion is that BAME individuals still face bias, including overt discrimination, in parts of the justice system,” the MP says in his report. His findings provide facts that people from minority ethnic backgrounds have argued for decades.
The MP highlighted the fact that there was “greater disproportionality” in the number of black people in prisons in England and Wales than in the US. Black people make up 3% of Britain’s population and 12% of the prison population, compared with 13% and 35% respectively, in the US.
His report concludes there is overt racial prejudice in Britain’s criminal justice system, although it is declining. But problems of covert and unconscious or implicit bias are becoming more apparent instead.