A dearth of data makes it difficult to understand the causes of racial disparity in the criminal justice system – a disparity that has created a ‘trust deficit’ for black and minority ethnic defendants.
‘It was me against them… I didn’t trust anyone,’ says Suleman, an Asian Muslim man, summing up his experience of Crown Court. ‘I didn’t see anyone with a common background… judges and magistrates, they were the last people I trusted – elderly, white English people and that’s not what I see in society outside.’
Ethnic minorities make up 14% of our general population, yet make up 26% of our prison population. Whilst just 3% of people in Britain identify as Black British, in our prisons the proportion of black inmates is four times higher. Four times higher. A troubling discrepancy which cannot be shied away from.
Black and minority-ethnic defendants may be given more severe sentences at magistrate and crown courts because they distrust the criminal justice system and are reluctant to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.
Problem-solving courts, which are currently only used in adult settings, aim to address offending behaviour through the co-ordination of services, including and beyond those provided by youth offending teams (YOTs), to reduce crime and improve wider outcomes for children, victims, and families.
It seems Liz Truss launched the Prison and Courts Bill with the intention to do it all – do right by victims of crime; focus on offender education and health; reduce overcrowding; rehabilitating prisoners; empowering governors; make courts more efficient; saving people money on their car insurance premiums.
This article looks at some of the proposals in the Bill and reactions by stakeholders.
The future of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court is far from certain due to a challenging economic climate and concerns among local stakeholders over whether the court provides value for money, an independent evaluation of the innovative court model has warned.
Law centres and advice providers can play a crucial role in helping prisoners to build crime-free lives once they get out jail, and reduce the annual £15bn cost of reoffending, an independent thinktank says today.
The country’s most senior judge has called for fewer offenders to be jailed. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said that the prison population, more than 85,000 in England and Wales, was “very, very high”. There are concerns, he told MPs, that it could rise further.